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A. M. PBILPOT Ltd., 

69, Great Rus&ell Street, W.C. 


Patrick Branwell Bronte 

Printed tn Great Britain 

Patrick Branwell Bronte. 

From the medallion by his friend J. B. Leyland, the sculptor. 

(Made probably about i^>4i.) 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 


^Alice Law, F.R.S.L., F.R.Hist.S. 

(Author of " Songs of the Uplands" etc.) 

London : 

A. M. Philpot, Ltd. 

69 Great Russell Street, W.C. 

To my friend 

A.E. M. 

in remembrance of 

Whitsuntide, 1923 

^- ^^ 

fK ^^f?i^^<^ -'x 

^y^'^ii A'-" 1356 




Chapter Page 

Introduction - - - 9 

I. The Biographers - - - 13 

II. Boyhood - - - - 18 

III. " I don't know what to do " - 34 

IV. " Much Tribulation " - - - 66 

V. "Wuthering Heights" — by Emily? 103 

VI. "Wuthering Heights " — by Bran- 
well ? 141 


Selections from the Poems of 

Branwell Bronte - - 185 


Patrick Branwell Bronte. From a 

medallion by his friend, the sculptor 
J. B. Leyland - - - Frontispiece 

To face page 
The Moorland Track, leading to what is now 

caUed " The Bronte Waterfall " - 32 

Emily Bronte. From the painting by 

Patrick Branwell Bronte - - - 40 

Haworth Parsonage as it was in the time of 

the Brontes 84 

" Patrick's Chair." Branwell's favourite 

seat in the Black Bull Inn, Haworth - 134 

The Withens. The supposed site of 

" Wuthering Heights " - - - 148 


In common with many other dwellers on the 

borders of the West Riding of Yorkshire, within a 

radius of some twenty odd miles from Haworth, 

I was brought up in the Bronte atmosphere. I 

have paid many visits to the little grey parsonage 

on the sky-line of the gaunt uplands, and every 

pilgrimage has intensified my profound pity for 

the unhappy life and blighted ambitions of Patrick 

Branwell Bronte, a feeling even predominating 

over my admiration for the genius of his sisters. 

This feeling might have remained pity, and 

nothing more, had it not been at length roused to 

something warmer by finding such a torrent of 

unmitigated abuse of Charlotte's despised brother 

in all the Bronte literature, both present and past, 

as made one suspect there must be some source of 

irritation against him not immediately manifest 

to the general public. Yet the more I pondered 


10 Introduction 

over his case, the more inexphcable it became to 
suppose that the youth whom Mrs. Gaskell — a 
writer so near to the heart of things through her 
friendship with Charlotte — had pronounced to ba 
" perhaps, to begin with, the greatest genius in 
this rare family", could have passed through nearly 
thirty-one years of life without leaving some 
work of value behind him. " To begin with " — 
the phrase is curious. One realises the suggestion 
behind it — that Branwell, both as boy and youth, 
gave promise of achievements which he never 
performed, and that having wasted and neglected 
his powers, he finally lost them. This opened up 
the question in my mind — Can genius perish 
utterly in a man ? Even though the vessel be 
wrecked, will not some spars, some precious cargo 
float to land to shew what a rich-laden and goodly 
ship has foundered ? What became of Branwell's 
undoubted genius ? 

In this perplexed state of mind I came across 
Mr. Francis A. Leyland's book on " The Bronte 
Family", written with especial reference to 
Branwell, giving various fragments of Branwell's 

Introduction 1 1 

work, and, most important of all, quoting his 
declaration that he had written a great portion of 
" Wuthering Heights." 

The " murder " was out, and my suspicions 
concerning the marked animus shewn by the 
biographers of the Brontes — those of Emily in 
particular — towards Branwell, were at once con- 
firmed. I began to understand something of the 
rage and indignation such an assertion would 
rouse in the minds of the staunch supporters of 
Emily's authorship, an authorship so confidently 
vouched for by Charlotte. I began to realize how 
necessary it was for the enthusiastic partizans of 
Emily and Charlotte to counter what Mr. 
Clement Shorter terms this " preposterous state- 
ment " of Branwell's, by endeavouring to shew 
him up as a thoroughly unreliable wastrel and liar. 
Greatly impressed with Mr. Leyland's very fair 
and balanced account of Branwell, I determined to 
study the matter more closely, with the result that 
I am convinced there is much evidence to sub- 
stantiate his claim. To dismiss it as the bio- 
graphers of Emily have done, with mere derision 

1 2 Introduction 

and rancorous contempt, is futile ; abuse is not 
argument. It remains, therefore, in the interests 
of literary justice that Branwell's claim should be 
carefully examined, as I have endeavoured, how 
ever inadequately, to examine it in the following 
pages, and I venture to submit the accumulated 
evidence which has been brought to light since Mr. 
Leyland's day to the unbiassed judgment of my 

Where no absolutely direct proof can be adduced, 
I have employed conjecture ; but only such con- 
jecture as, taken together with all the obvious 
points of the case, amounts well nigh to certainty. 

Alice Law 


The history of the Bronte family, with one ex- 
ception, that of their brother, the subject of this 
memoir, har-. been so often told as to call for little 
further comment. The story of Patrick Branwell 
Bronte, on the other hand, has but cropped up 
incidentally in the biographies of his famous 
sisters, hurriedly, apologetically thrust in, to 
illustrate certain aspects of, or crises in, their Uves. 
The reference has been usually brief and damna- 
tory, the pitiable narrative being introduced 
chiefly as a foil to display how their genius tri- 
umphed despite the stumbling block of a brother's 
disgrace, strewn in the path of their achievement. 
Mrs. Gaskell passes him by with a shudder, 
referring to him as one who proved the bane of his 
sisters' Uves ; Sir Wemyss Reid, in his monograph 
upon Charlotte, refers to him as " this lost and 
degraded man " ; Miss Mary Robinson (Madame 
Duclaux), in her study of Emily, cannot find 


14 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

words sufficiently scathing to convey her contempt 
for Branwell ; and Mr. Swinburne, in his review 
of Miss Robinson's work, adds his invective to hers. 
Within the last quarter of a century other writers 
have gone out of their way to heap contempt and 
obloquy upon this unfortunate young man. Mr. 
Clement Shorter dismisses his pretensions to 
genius in the harshest fashion, and Miss Sinclair, 
relying perhaps too much on Mr. Shorter 's judg- 
ment, and for a reason which I hope presently to 
make plain, acquiesces in, and even emphasizes 
the general condemnation. While at first gener- 
ously deploring the perpetual digging up of poor 
Branwell, Miss Sinclair finally, in her study of 
" The Three Brontes", begins to dig as fast as 
any one, and to drive as many nails as possible 
into the coffin of his reputation. 

Indeed, this necessity of repudiating Branwell 
has become a kind of obsession among Bronte 
writers, so much so that they seem to fear that 
unless Branwell is defamed, the sisters cannot 
come into their full inheritance of glory. 

From what we know of Charlotte, Emily and 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 1 5 

Anne Bronte, we can guess that they would owe 
their biographers scant thanks for such a miserable 
tribute to their reputation. Assuredly the lustre 
of their renown is brilliant enough, and needs no 
such deplorable foil. Yet, so it has been : from 
the time of Mrs. Gaskell until now, Branwell 
Bronle's failure has been everywhere emphasized 
to magnify his sisters' success or to enhance the 
pathos of their sufferings, until it is scarcely an 
exaggeration to say that his poor Hfe and reputa- 
tion have been used, much as were the bodies of 
some of the Early Christians — tarred with obloquy 
and burned as a torch to throw a more lurid light 
on the struggles of his kinsfolk batthng in life's 
arena. His own martyrdom, at the hands of Fate 
and Family, has passed unheeded. 

There is perhaps in the whole history of English 
literature — usually so generous to the claims of 
genius however handicapped by temperament or 
hampered by circumstance — no parallel instance 
of any writer of equad ability being subjected to the 
indiscriminate abuse heaped on Branwell Bronte. 
It is indeed time that all this execration should 

16 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

cease. Shameful if continued against the most 
ordinary human being, it becomes an outrage 
against the memory of one who had so little good 
fortune in his short lifetime ; who died in his 
thirty-first year, a victim to the hereditary disease 
which devastated in turn the members of his family; 
and who left behind him fragments of art and 
literature which indicate the highest promise of 
what he might have attained in a more favourable 

Mr. Bronte was the first strongly to resent Mrs. 
Gaskell's uncalled-for attacks upon both himself 
and his son, and since then there have happily 
been a few gallant defenders of Branwell Bronte, 
to whose impressions the more weight may be 
attached since they either knew him personally 
or were in close touch with those who did. The 
report they render, taken as a whole, is markedly 
in his favour. The writers denouncing him, on 
the other hand, are those who have merely judged 
him from rumour and hearsay. Their almost 
hysterical outbursts against him leave the reader 
with the suspicion that they had some particular 

Patrick Branwell Bro7ite 17 

grudge against him, and, as I hope presently to 
shew, they undoubtedly have. The peevishness 
of these writers, makes them all, with the notable 
exception of Mr. Clement Shorter, strive to give 
their readers an impression that Branwell's whole 
life was a trial and disgrace to his family ; whereas 
we know that only during the last three years, 
when he was suffering abnormal strain of physical 
and mental anguish, did he become a source of 
acute anxiety and distress to his father and 
sisters. For at least twenty-seven years he was 
the object of pride and dear affection. How he 
came to be anything less shall be examined later. 
Before entering upon a discussion of Branwell 
Bronte's claim to our remembrance, a brief sum- 
mary of his life history is necessary. Much 
material, previously unknown, has been brought 
together by the unremitting industry of his chief 
biographer, Mr. Francis A. Leyland, upon which* 
I shall not hesitate to draw largely, and base my 
own conclusions. 

• "The Bronte Family" (Hurst and Blackett) 
1886. Henceforth referred to as Leyland. 




To begin then, as the children say, at the very 
beginning, it is known to all Bronte students that 
Patrick Branwell Bronte was born at the Parsonage 
House, Haworth, near Keighley, in the West 
Riding of Yorkshire, in 1818, the fourth child of 
The Reverend Patrick Bronte and Maria, his 
wife. He was called Patrick after his father, and 
Branwell after his mother's family. His mother 
died when he was three years old, and he can 
scarcely have had any definite recollection of her. 
From his fourth year onward, till he was old 
enough to attend the local Grammar School, we 
must picture the little Branwell as a fair, bright- 
eyed boy, with chestnut hair, sharing the home life 
of his five motherless sisters, under the kindly, but 
strict tutelage of their aunt. Miss Branwell, who 
at the request of her bereaved brother-in-law, had 


Patrick Branwell Bronte 19 

come up from Cornwall to manage his young 
family, and to preside over the affairs of his house- 

It has been wisely said that every student of the 
Brontes would do well to visit the high moorland 
village where they were bred, a tiny rustic hamlet 
perched on the top of wild, sweeping, ruthless 
uplands, amid the kind of scenery that either 
attracts or utterly repels the onlooker. We know 
that in the case of one, if not two, of the sisters, 
their native moors were so much a part of their 
own nature, that they could not be happy else- 
where. This was not necessarily their brother's 
case, though the wild spirit of the moors un- 
doubtedly imbued his mind and heart from life- 
long association. As a tiny boy, hand in hand 
with his elder sisters, Maria, Elizabeth and 
Charlotte, he walked day after day along the roads 
leading either to Colne or Keighley, and when he 
was old enough to ramble alone or with some 
friend of his own age, we may be sure he frequented 
every nook and cranny that held Nature's secrets, 
and became acquainted with every bird and plant 

20 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

to be found in the remotest recesses of that deso- 
late region. 

It might be supposed that the only boy among 
a group of girls would be the especial object of his 
father's care and solicitude. It is clear that Mr. 
Bronte did his best for his son within the very 
narrow limitations of his somewhat stern and 
self-centred nature. But his whole system of 
training proves beyond the possibility of doubt, 
that he was no lover of children. His ideas were 
rigid, the little ones were not to come into close 
contact with him, he was to be " saved " from 
them, not to be disturbed by noise or play. To 
make quite sure that his solitude should not be 
encroached upon, he took his meals apart, and 
further to ensure that his offspring should prove 
sufficiently " tame " and docile, we are told that 
he kept them on a diet of porridge and potatoes. 
They were never allowed meat. Now in the mild 
climate of Ireland, where Mr. Bronte had been bred, 
and where so large a proportion of the population 
are potato-fed, this diet is probably fairly 
sustaining, at least when supplemented, as it 

Patrick Br unwell Bronte 2 1 

usually is, with bacon. But for a bleak, bitter 
country like the desolate, high moors of the West 
Riding, such fare is quite unsuitable. The delicate 
children of the Parsonage needed the best food 
and clothing available, to protect them from the 
cold of that exposed region. It seems therefore 
impossible to exonerate this hard, self-absorbed 
parent from the grave accusation of having sub- 
jected his precious charges to a regimen and system 
of training which their tender bodies were totally 
unfitted to bear, and of having thus — unwittingly, 
it may be granted — laid them open to the ravages 
of that constitutional disease which proved fatal 
to them all. 

In the case of Branwell, the lack of nitrogenous 
food was especially disastrous, as a boy needs 
more bone and muscle building, and there can 
be little doubt that the Spartan diet upon which 
he was reared induced the fragility so eminently 
noticeable in his constitution, both as boy and man. 
It was probably this lack of stamina and natural 
vigour which led him in later years to resort to 
stimulants that might spur his flagging energies, 

22 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

and which rendered him unequal to the strain of 
combating the series of disappointments he eventu- 
ally encountered, under which his spirit broke 
completely and finally. 

From all accounts he was a gentle, affectionate 
boy, but abnormally excitable. He was his 
aunt's especial favourite, but never taken into 
close companionship by his father. The grim 
old man did his duty, as he conceived it, by his 
son in grounding him well in the rudiments of 
learning, and without doubt taught him conscien- 
tiously and well. But his grave and reserved 
nature made him incapable of winning the boy's 
ardent, impulsive heart, and it was probably a 
relief to all concerned when Branwell was old 
enough to attend the local Grammar School. 

It is well known from Mrs. Gaskell's work* 
how the children spent the winter evenings before 
bedtime. Seated together round the kitchen 
fire, they invented tales and little dramas ; all 

* " Life of Charlotte Bronte," by Mrs. Gaskell 
(Dent). With Preface by Miss May Sinclair, 1908. 
Henceforth referred to as " Life." 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 23 

the children contributed some idea or other to 
the plays ; but there is reason to suppose that 
Branwell was the leading spirit in their plots and 
composition, Charlotte taking the more tedious 
task of copj'ing them out and preserving them 
in her private library. The names of three are 
given by Charlotte as follows : " Our plays were 
estabhshed : ' Young Men', June, 1826 ; ' Our 
Fellows', July, 1827 ; ' Islanders', December, 
1827. These are our three great plays that are 
not kept secret."* 

The titles of these plays indicate more strongly 
than anything the prominent part played by 
Branwell in their composition, though from Mrs. 
Gaskell's account, one might suppose the whole 
juvenile library, of which Charlotte writes, to have 
been her own sole creation. Branwell is also known 
to have contributed his share to the " Young 
Men's Magazine" completed December, 1829, of 
which six numbers are included in the " Catalogue 
of my Books up to August, 1830". It is more 
than probable that in speaking of these as her 
♦ " Life," pp. 54-55. 

24 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

books Charlotte was claiming possession rather 
than authorship, for it is known that her brother 
and sister Emily were equal contributors with 

The existence of these little compositions 
establishes the fact that Branwell, no less than 
his sisters, was engaged in romantic literary 
composition from the age of nine onwards. It is 
said that he was an ardent student and omnivorous 
reader of all the books or magazines that came his 
way. He studied the classics both with his 
father and at the Grammar School, and was a 
fairly brilliant scholar. Some of the magazines 
of the day, Blackwood's certainly, he saw, and the 
local papers ; we also hear of his close acquaintance 
with the works of the great writers of the day, 
Scott, Southey, Wordsworth, Byron, De Quincey, 
Coleridge, Cowper, Burns, Christopher North, and 
many more, as well as with the classics of the 
Augustan Age and the great Elizabethans. It is 
remarkable, too, that, spirited boy as he was, 
his favourite poets were Wordsworth and Cowper : 
he was particularly fond of quoting the latter's 

Patrick Br unwell Bronte 26 

poem, " The Castaway". A description given by 
Charlotte of one of her characters, Victor 
Crimsworth, in his boyhood, is said by those who 
knew, to have borne a close resemblance to Branwell 
as they remembered him. " Victor," she makes 
William Crimsworth say, " is pale and spare, with 
large eyes. . . . His shape is symmetrical enough, 
but slight. ... I never saw a child smile less 
than he does, nor one who knits such a formidable 
brow when sitting over a book that interests him 
or while listening to tales of adventure, peril or 
wonder. ... He had susceptibility to pleasur- 
able sensations almost too keen, for it amounts to 
enthusiasm. . . . When he could read, he became 
a glutton of books and is so still. His toys have 
been few, and he has never wanted more. . . . 
I discovered in the garden of his intellect a rich 
growth of wholesome principles — reason, justice, 
moral courage, promised, if not blighted, a fertile 
bearing. . . . She (his mother) sees, as I see, a 
something in Victor's temper — a kind of electrical 
ardour and power — which emits now and then 
ominous sparks. Hunsden calls it his spirit, and 

26 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

says it should not be curbed. I call it the leaven 
of the offending Adam, and consider that it should 
be, if not whipped out of him, at least soundly 
disciplined. Frances, his mother, gives this some, 
thing in her son's marked character no name, 
but when it appears ... in the fierce revolt 
of feeling against disappointment, mischance, 
sudden sorrow or supposed injustice, she folds 
him to her breast, or takes him to walk with her 
in the wood. Then she reasons with him, and to 
reason Victor is ever accessible. Then she looks 
at him with eyes of love, and by love Victor can 
be infallibly subjugated."* This is but a fanciful 
picture for which Branwell may have stood as the 
original, but if this was the case, we are brought 
in touch with a disposition that was obviously 
highly strung and sensitive to the utmost degree. 
An intense capacity for enjoyment was most 
certainly one of his characteristics, for we read 
of the wild exuberance of his spirits when, in the 
company of a friend, the son of a neighbour, he 
visited Keighley Fair. On a later occasion, when 
* Leyland, I., pp. 83 e/ seq. 

Patrick Bramvell Bronte 2 7 

he had been sent by his father to escort Charlotte 

to a friend's house a few miles away, we learn 

that his ecstacy knew no bounds at the beauties 

of Miss Nussey's dehghtful home. " He walked 

about in unrestrained boyish enjoyment, taking 

views in every direction of the turret-roofed house, 

the fine chestnut trees on the lawn . . . and a 

large rookery, which gave to the house a good 

background — all these he noted and commented 

upon with perfect enthusiasm. He told his sister 

he was leaving her in Paradise, and if she were 

not intensely happy she never would be ! "* 

At this time he was between fifteen and sixteen 

years old. 

This was a critical period in the boy's life. 

Beyond his years of childish tuition, he seems to 

have had no further help from his father, who, it 

must be granted, was in no way fitted by nature 

or temperament to have the up-bringing of so 

brilliant, wayward and impulsive a youth as 

Branwcll. Consequently, out of lesson hours, he 

was left almost entirely to his own devices. In 

♦ lb. p. 115. 

28 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

so retired and rural a hamlet what was there for 
the boy to do save consort with the youth of the 
place or listen to the coarse, if racy, conversation 
of the sexton, John Brown, who, being constantly 
employed in the graveyard, only a stones-throw 
from the Parsonage door, was always at young 
Master Bronte's disposal. The Sexton's " off " 
hours were largely spent in the bar-parlour of the 
Village Inn, and thither Branwell often followed 
him, either to hear his stories or to discuss Pugihsm, 
a sport which has frequently a strong attraction 
for delicate boys striving to show they are as good 
fighters as any other. The " Noble Art of Self 
Defence " was much patronized in the early part 
of the last century by the fashionable dandies of 
London, as well as by the leading country gentle- 
men. Branwell, an enthusiastic boxer, was a 
member of the village Boxing Club, where no doubt 
he met many rough companions whose society 
cannot have been either suitable or beneficial to 
his temperament at this impressionable period of 
his Hfe. Still, it is difficult to see how, without 
being a prig, he could have avoided the com- 

Patrick Br unwell Bronte 29 

panionship of the youths who were his father's 
parishioners and Sunday scholars. 

But though the rough and tumble life he 
shared with some of his village companions was 
undoubtedly a prominent feature of his early 
youth, there were other ties and attractions that 
bound him more closely : the attachment he 
had to his sisters, his affection for his devoted 
Aunt Branwell, and his respect for his father's 
teaching and character. At the Parsonage he spent 
his time cultivating his mind with all the good 
literature within reach, in the study of music, 
to which he was passionately devoted, and in 
the serious pursuit of art. 

Branwell had lessons in music from the teacher 
who instructed his sister Emily — the only really 
gifted musician of the three sisters — and he also 
played the organ. Whether he played for the 
Sunday services is not related, but we hear of 
him at a later date, in 1837, officiating as organist 
at meetings of the Masonic Lodge of the Three 
Graces, held at Haworth in that year. He was 
particularly devoted to sacred music, and an 

30 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

enthusiastic admirer of the compositions of 
Handel, Hadyn, Mozart and other great masters. 
It is told of him that when the works of these 
great musicians were at any time played by his 
friends, he would walk about the rooms in an 
ecstacy, his eyes raised to the ceiling, " accom- 
panying the music with his voice in an impassioned 
manner, and beating time with his hand on the 
chairs as he passed to and fro."* 

Painting was, however, thought to be his 
greatest gift, and in company with his sisters, 
particularly Charlotte, Branwell had drawing 
lessons from a visiting master, and quickly pro- 
ceeded on his own initiative to attempt oil 
painting. His gift for obtaining a hkeness of 
his subject was very noticeable ; indeed, so 
marked was his facility with brush and pencil 
that the whole family were convinced that art 
would be his vocation, and for several years he 
was strongly encouraged by them to persist 
industriously in its pursuit. 

From all the accounts we have of his various 
* "Leyland," I., p. ug. 

Patrick Br unwell Bronte 31 

accomplishments at the close of his boyhood, 
it can scarcely be disputed that Branwell Bronte 
was exceptionally gifted. He was, moreover, a 
boy who pulsed with feeling, a boy, who, while he 
danced with the joy of young life, vibrated also with 
all the emotions of sorrow when it visited the little 
domestic circle to which he belonged. In many 
respects he was as sensitive as a woman, and where 
he gave his affections, he became and remained 
passionately attached. The pathetic death of his 
two elder sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, when he was 
a boy of eight, made a tragic impression on his 
mind, and perhaps laid the foundations of that 
deep strain of dark melancholy that pervades all his 
poetry, and which plunged him in gloom at 
various intervals all through his life. His poems 
" To Caroline " are supposed to have been the 
outcome of his musings on the untimely deaths 
of his sisters. 

It is scarcely to be wondered at if Branwell, 
marshalled as he was from a very early age in 
all his goings and comings by women, should 
have developed a marked sense of sex differen- 

32 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

tiation. Shut up as he was in a bare, dreary, 
moorland Parsonage ; ruled over by a precise, 
formal and elderly lady, and a harsh-mannered, 
rude-voiced old Yorkshire house-wife, the famous 
" Tabby " ; with no other companions than his 
three, delicate, prim sisters, trained in the 
strictest code of Victorian propriety ; his father 
a grave, awe-inspiring elderly clergyman, ab- 
sorbed more closely in his own personality than 
in that of his son — with such an environment, 
is it to be marvelled that he passionately longed 
for the society of his fellows, and that, the moment 
lessons were over, he rushed to freedom with all 
the glee and impetuosity of a wild thing escaping 
from prison bars ? One can imagine him scam- 
pering over the moors, shouting aloud in sheer 
dehght of living, strangely similar to that boy 
of whom Wordsworth wrote : — 

There was a boy — ye knew him well, ye cliffs 
And islands of Winander ! Many a time 
At evening, when the earliest stars began 
To move along the edges of the hills, 
Rising or setting, he would stand alone. 
Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lake ; 




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Patrick Branwell Bronte 33 

And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands 
Pressed closely palm to palm, and to his mouth 
Uplifted, he, as through an instrument 
Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls. 
That they might answer him * » ♦ 

And when it chanced 

That pauses of deep silence mocked his skill, 

Then, sometimes in that silence, while he hung 

Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise 

Has carried far into his heart the voice 

Of mountain torrents ; or the visible scene 

Would enter unawares into his mind 

With all its solemn imagery, its rocks, 

Its woods and that uncertain heaven received 

Into the bosom of the steady lake. 



These words uttered listlessly by Branwell when 
he was a boy of between seven and eight, as he 
and his sisters were seated round the kitchen fire 
one winter evening, and which brought from 
Charlotte the bright suggestion that they should 
play at choosing an Island,* were almost pro- 
phetically significant of Branwell's attitude to- 
wards the various dilemmas in which he found 
himself at subsequent periods of his life. At the 
age of seventeen it became incumbent on him to 
choose a career. It may be supposed that his 
father would have been well satisfied had his son 
shown an inclination to qualify as a clergyman. 
But Branwell had no such desire either then or 
afterwards. It is probable that, this being the 
case, Mr. Bronte did not take the same interest 
in his son's future which he would have done had 

* " Life," p. 53. 

Patrick Bramtfll Bronte 35 

Bran well staidly adopted his own profession. 
But Charlotte, who was in a sense the leading spirit 
at the Parsonage, was at this time much impressed 
with her brother's abilities, and looked to him 
to accomplish great things. His gift for drawing 
was, so far, the most outstanding of his per- 
formances, and seemed to hold out the greatest 
chances of success. He had either at this time 
or a few years later, probably in 1839, made a life- 
size painting of his three sisters, which Mrs. Gaskell 
saw before it had faded, and of which she writes 
as follows : " It was a group of his sisters, life-size, 
three-quarter length ; not much better than sign- 
painting as to manipulation, but the Ukenesses 
were, I should think, admirable. I could only 
judge of the fidelity with which the other two were 
depicted from the striking resemblance which 
Charlotte . . . standing right behind it, bore to 
her own representation, though it must have been 
ten years or more since the portraits were taken. 
. . . They were good likenesses, however badly 
executed. From whence I should guess his 
family augured truly that, if Branwell had but the 

36 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

opportunity ... he might turn out a great 

After, we may be sure, a most careful considera- 
tion of the question, it was decided that Branwell 
should seek entry as a student at the Royal 
Academy Schools, and he accordingly wrote to 
the secretary for information. All we know 
further is that in 1835 he proceeded to London 
with a view to presenting himself as a student, 
and that within a week he returned to the Parson- 
age without having achieved the exciting purpose 
for which he had so high-heartedly set out. To 
those who know the qualifying conditions of study 
at the Academy Schools there will appear nothing 
singular in Branwell's sudden return, though his 
detractors, hastening to use even this for the 
purpose of defaming him, and, without a shadow of 
foundation for their assertions, insidiously suggest 
that his failure was the outcome of indulgence in a 
course of dissipation at the first opportunity that 
presented itself. 

Mrs. Gaskell in this connection writes absolute 
* " Life," p. 88. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 37 

nonsense about " sisters who have laid their lives 
as a sacrifice before their brother's idolised wish," 
which is nothing to the point, as his sisters were 
in no way affected by Branwell's apphcation at 
the Academy Schools, though they might have 
been had he selfishly decided to remain there and 
go through the necessary course of training. 
But to talk of " sacrifice " is ridiculous : some 
opportunity of training for a profession was in 
any case due to the boy if he were to support 
himself in life, and had he decided to enter the 
Church, he would have needed some course of 
college training. But this week in London was 
all he got, and yet Miss Sinclair talks glibly about 
his having " had his chance ".* Even Mr. Shorter 
makes the totally unsupported assertion that the 
youth " probably wasted the money and his father 
refused supplies. "| 

Mr. Leyland, however, writes with sense and 
judgment upon the matter, and he has an especial 
right to do so, as his brother, the sculptor, was then 

• Sinclair, " The Three Brontes," p. 17 (Hutchinson), 
t Shorter, " The Bronte Circle " (Dent). 

38 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

living in London, in close touch with some of the 
greatest artists of the day ; and it is more than 
probable that under his patronage the lad made 
this first venture. " It would," says Mr. Leyland, 
" seem scarcely possible that the difficulties 
attending Branwell's admission as a student 
at the Royal Academy had been duly considered. 
He could not be admitted without a preliminary 
examination of his drawings from the antique 
and the skeleton, to ascertain if his ability as a 
draughtsman was of such an order as would 
qualify him for studentship ; and if successful 
in this, he would be required to undergo a regular 
course of education and to pass through the various 
schools where professors and academicians attended 
to give instruction. No doubt it was wished that 
Branwell should have a regular and prolonged 
preparation for his professional, artistic career ; 
but it would have lasted for years and the pecuniary 
strain consequent upon it would perhaps have been 
severely felt, even if Branwell's genius had justified 
the outlay."* 

* " Leyland," I., p. 142-146. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 39 

It is greatly to Branwell's credit that he at once 
grasped this aspect of the case. He probably 
talked the matter over with the sculptor — after- 
wards his life-long friend — and decided that he 
was not justified in putting such a strain upon his 
father's resources, and so, after a wonderful week 
of sight-seeing in the city of his dreams, he made 
the best of it, and bravely returned to Haworth. 
This was indeed the only manly course to take, 
and he took it. But the boy's own bitter dis- 
appointment and disillusion may be better imagined 
than expressed, and we know that he referred to 
it in a conversation with his friend, Mr. George 
Searle Phillips, who mentions it in his account 
of Branwell published in the " Mirror " for 1872. 

Branwell was not immediately discouraged. 
He could not afford London, but an arrangement 
was made, possibly by the generosity of his aunt 
Miss Branwell, by which he should take a short 
course of lessons in Bradford, in the studio of the 
artist who had previously given him and Charlotte 
some occasional lessons at Haworth. He worked 
with Mr. Robinson for a few months, and then. 

40 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

possibly fired by the example of the great Chantry's 
humble beginnings, he started as portrait painter 
on his own account in that town. Although he 
received certain commissions, and lived frugally, 
it was not possible to make a profitable business 
out of so precarious an occupation ; the days 
of black-and-white work, in which he would prob- 
ably have excelled, had not yet come ; and after 
a heart-breaking struggle, Branwell, in 1839, 
decided to abandon the pursuit of art altogether. 
Miss Sinclair dismisses Branwell's art career 
very jauntily. " He went to London," she says, 
" but nothing came of it. He went to Bradford 
and had a studio there, but nothing came of it."* 
Nothing for Branwell possibly, but, I venture 
to think, much for ourselves. Had it not been for 
Branwell's great gift, not of painting, perhaps, 
but of portraiture, how much poorer should we 
be to-day ! For is it not to his gift of perception 
and insight which found in the countenances of 
his three sisters something arresting, something 
akin to greatness, perceived by no one else, that 
* " The Three Brontes," p. 17. 

Emily Bronx K. 

From a painting by Patrick Branwi-ll Bronte. 

(Reproduced by kind permission of the National Portrait 
Gallery, London.) 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 41 

we have preserved for us, although in ruins, the 
group of the three Brontes which Mrs. Gaskell 
saw and described in its first freshness ? This we 
owe assuredly to the Bradford period. And if 
Branwell had no other fame, he has at least one 
species of immortality as the painter of his sister 
Emily's profile portrait, in which he has caught 
the very soul and spirit of his subject, and given 
her to us in all her Dantesque severity and aloof- 
ness, given her to us clothed with all the fatality 
of a Greek tragic figure, a second Antigone, gazing 
intently into Eternity. Only an innately fine 
artist could have given us this ; the colours have 
perished, but the flame-like spirit of Emily remains 
and fires the faded canvas. Who, having seen 
even the wreck of this portrait of Emily Bronte 
can be unmindful of the undeveloped genius of 
the artist brother who conceived and limned it ? 
Who, having dwelt on the truth of its execution, 
and the inexhaustible wonder of its subject, can 
truthfully say that " nothing came " of Branwell 
Bronte's art studies at Bradford ? 

While at Bradford he made many friends among 

42 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

the most cultured artistic circles to be found there. 
His musical abilities also won him many friends 
in the town. Those who knew him there describe 
him as " a quiet, unassuming young man, retiring 
and difhdent, seeming rather of a passive nature 
and delicate constitution than otherwise." Miss 
Mary F. Robinson's statements that he left the 
town heavily in debt, and was both a drunkard and 
an opium-eater are, says Mr. Leyland " simply 
untrue." " I have," he goes on to say, " the 
positive information of one who knew Bran well 
in Leeds, and who resided in Bradford when he was 
there, that he did not leave that town in debt ; 
that he certainly was not a drunkard, and that 
if he took anything at all it was but occasionally, 
and then no more than the commonest custom 
would permit." In conclusion, Mr. Leyland 
speaks with admiration of Branwell's " honest, 
upright and honourable endeavour to make a living 
by the profession of Art at Bradford."* 

Other forces were at this time also working in 
Branwell's mind. He had, since boyhood, never 
♦ " Leyland," I., p. 178. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 43 

ceased the writing of tales and romances. As 
late as this Bradford period, he had written a 
story entitled " Percy". He continually produced 
poems, most of them tinged with that constitu- 
tional melancholy which was one of his most 
abiding characteristics. Great powers were un- 
doubtedly stirring within him, but he was, his 
Bradford friends noted, diffident ; the source of 
this want of self-confidence may very well have 
been the undoubted frailty of his constitution, 
already pre-disposed to a consumptive tendency. 
None the less, his spirit was brave, and he left 
no means untried to di.scover what career he might 
adopt which would enable him to relieve his father 
from the burden of supporting him. 

It was during what we may call this " Bradford 
Period " that Branwell occupied his available 
leisure in literary — chiefly poetic — attempts. Being 
very anxious to succeed, and scarcely knowing to 
whom to turn for guidance, he wrote to Words- 
worth, and, enclosing some of his verses, ventured 
to solicit his opinion as to whether he was justified 
in pursuing his literary ambitions. I give the 

44 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

letter in full, as I think it is valuable evidence of 
one side of Branwell's character, a side which has 
been so little brought into prominence by his many 
detractors :* 

" Haworth, near Bradford. 


January igth, 1837. 
" Sir, 

" I most earnestly entreat you to read and 
pass your judgment upon what I have sent you, 
because from the day of my birth to this, the 
nineteenth year of my life, I have lived among 
secluded hills, where I could neither know what 
I was or what I could do. I read for the same 
reason that I ate or drank — because it was a real 
craving of nature ; I wrote on the same principle 
as I spoke, out of the impulse and feelings of the 
mind ; nor could I help it, for what came, came 
out, and there was the end of it. For as to self- 
conceit, that could not receive food from flattery, 
since to this hour not half-a-dozen people in the 
world know that I have penned a line. 
* GaskeU, " Life," p. 98-99- 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 45 

" But a change has taken place now, Sir ; and 
I am arrived at an age wherein I must do something 
for myself : the powers I possess must be exercised 
to a definite end, and as I don't know them myself, 
I must ask of others what they are worth. Yet 
there is not one here to tell me ; and still, if they 
are worthless, time will henceforth be too precious 
to be wasted on them. 

" Do pardon me. Sir, that I have ventured to 
come before one whose works I have most loved 
in our literature, and who most has been with 
me a divinity of the mind, laying before him one 
of my writings, and asking of him a judgment 
of its contents. I must come before someone 
from whose sentence there is no appeal ; and such 
a one is he who has developed the theory of poetry 
as well as its practice, and both in such a way as 
to claim a place in the memory of a thousand 
years to come. 

" My aim, Sir, is to push out into the open world, 
and for this I trust not poetry alone — that might 
launch the vessel, but could not bear her on ; 
sensible and scientific prose, bold and vigorous 

46 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

efforts in my walk in life, would give a further 
title to the notice of the world ; and then again, 
poetry ought to brighten and crown that name with 
glory ; but nothing of all this can be ever begun 
without means, and as I don't possess these 
I must in every shape strive to gain them. Surely 
in this day, when there is not a writing poet worth 
a sixpence, the field must be open, if a better man 
can step forward. 

" What I send you is the Prefatory Scene of a 
much longer subject, in which I have striven to 
develop strong passions and weak principles 
struggling with a high imagination and acute 
feelings, till, as youth hardens towards old age, 
evil deeds and short enjoyments end in mental 
misery and bodily ruin. Now, to send you the 
whole of this would be a mock upon your patience ; 
what you see does not even pretend to be more 
than the description of an imaginative child. But 
read it, Sir ; and, as you would hold a light to one 
in utter darkness, as you value your own kind- 
heartedness, return me an answer if but one word, 
telling me whether I should write on, or write 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 47 

no more. Forgive undue warmth, because my 
feelings in this matter cannot be cool ; and be- 
Heve me, Sir, with deep respect, 

" Your really humble servant, 

"P. B. Bronte." 

Mr. Shorter has referred very slightingly to 
Branwell's letters in comparison with his sister 
Charlotte's, but I think no one can read the one 
I have just quoted without being touched by its 
tone of courteous deference and the lucid beauty 
of its style. The paragraph in which he asks 
Wordsworth to pardon his appeal is one of re- 
markable grace, and there are many other 
passages in the letter, particularly towards the 
close, that are affecting by the natural, simple 
eloquence of their entreaty. A youth of nine- 
teen who could write so well as this had assuredly 
a future before him, if he could but meet with 
sufficient opportunities of exercising his already 
uncommon gifts of hterary expression. 

But one of the outstanding disadvantages from 
which Branwell Bronte suffered throughout his 

48 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

life was that — as he confessed so naively in this 
letter — he did not know what powers he possessed, 
and when he was on the verge of discovering them, 
misfortunes assailed him, and he died without 
coming into the heritage actually awaiting him. 

Soon after his return from Bradford, we find 
Branwell accepting the situation of tutor in the 
family of a Mr. Postlethwaite of Broughton- 
in-Furness, and entering upon his duties there 
on the first of January, 1840. While in this 
neighbourhood it is recorded that he tramped 
among the lovely hills and valleys of that beautiful 
country, and it is suggested that he may have been 
received by Wordsworth, for whom, as we have 
seen, he cherished a deeply reverent admiration. 
He certainly was acquainted with Hartley Coleridge, 
who gave him a favourable opinion upon 
some work he had submitted. His mind con- 
tinued to be occupied chiefly with Hterature, 
and he wrote his poem on " Black Comb " at 
this time. 

It was while he was at Broughton that Branwell 
sent his old friend and crony, John Brown, the 

Patrick Br unwell Bronte 49 

letter which so scandalized Miss Mary F. Robinson. 
It was wTitten in a roystering, devil-may-care 
spirit, probably to throw off, for an hour at least, 
the constraint of solemn behaviour, unnatural 
to any young man of his age, which, in his position 
as tutor, he was obliged to assume. It was never 
meant for pubhcation, but being proudly treasured 
in the sexton's family, has been given to the world. 

Mrs. Gaskell, writing of Branwell as he appeared 
to his family about the year 1840, says : "At this 
time the young man seemed to have his fate in 
his own hands. He was full of noble impulses, 
as well as of extraordinary gifts ; not accustomed 
to resist temptation, it is true, from any higher 
motive than strong family affection, but showing 
so much power of attachment to all about him, 
that they took pleasure in believing that after a 
time he would 'right himself, and that they should 
have pride and delight in the use he would then 
make of his splendid talents ; ... in early 
youth his power of attracting and attaching 
people was so great that few came in contact 
with him who were not so much dazzled by him 

50 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

as to be desirous of gratifying whatever wishes 
he expressed. ... I have seen Branwell's profile ; 
it is what would be generally esteemed very 
handsome ; the forehead is massive, the eye 
well set, and the expression of it fine and in- 
tellectual ; the nose too is good ; but there are 
coarse lines about the mouth, while the slightly 
retreating chin conveys an idea of weakness 
of will. His hair and complexion were sandy. 
He had enough Irish blood in him to make his 
manners frank and genial, with a kind of natural 
gallantry about them. In a fragment of one 
of his manuscripts which I have read, there is a 
justness and felicity of expression which is very 
striking. It is the beginning of a tale and the 
actors in it are drawn with much of the grace 
of characteristic portrait-painting in perfectly 
pure and simple language, which distinguishes 
so many of Addison's papers in the Spectator. 
. . . But altogether the elegance and com- 
posure of style are such as one would not have 
expected from this vehement and ill-fated young 
man. He had a stronger desire for literary fame 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 51 

burning in his heart than even that which occa- 
sionally flashed up in his sister's. He tried 
various outlets for his talents. ... In 1840 
he was living at home, employing himself in 
occasional composition of various kinds, and 
waiting till some employment for which he might 
be fitted without any expensive course of pre- 
liminary education, should turn up."* 

There are, I think, a few points in Mrs. Gaskell's 
description which seem to invite attention. It 
will be seen how much she admired Branwell's 
prose style, but it will also be noticed that she was 
so afraid of bestowing unqualified praise upon one 
whom she regarded as a backslider, that she 
modifies it with the expression of her astonishment 
at finding it so good. What connection there can 
be between an author's personal ill-fortune and 
his method of writing is difficult to conjecture. 
What is made plain by Mrs. Gaskell is that 
Branwell possessed a captivating personality, and a 
fascination of manner which goes far to explain 
much that subsequently befell him. 
• "Life," 123-4. 

52 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

Another point that calls for notice is the obvious 
determination of Mr. Bronte not to spend any 
money on preparing his son for any of the pro- 
fessions. We hear that the old gentleman was 
never weary of relating how he had managed 
to make his way to Cambridge and win his degree. 
But possibly he omitted to tell of the kind patron 
he had in the vicar of his native parish, a certain 
Mr. Tighe, by the aid of whose interest and 
liberality he had been able to be admitted to 
the University. The obvious thing would have 
been to send Branwell to try his fortune at Cam- 
bridge, even for a year. With the help of his 
aunt it would have been possible to raise the 
money for a year's course at least, and such a 
brilliant youth as Branwell would assuredly have 
repaid the training. But the only available 
capital was Miss Branwell's savings, and that was 
shortly to be annexed by that vehement indi- 
vidualist, his sister Charlotte, when she per- 
suaded her aunt to advance £ioo or more, to 
enable her and Emily to study at Brussels. She 
even refers to her father's ambitions to enforce 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 53 

her argument. " I want us all to get on," she 

Such a sum spent in getting Branwell out of 
the wretched village influences into a scholarly 
environment, where he could have absorbed the 
culture for which he so ardently hungered, might 
have altered the whole course of his life. It 
was certainly not the sisters who were sacrificed. 
The boy was mis-handled from his earliest years. 
He had no suitable guide or counsellor in his 
father, who was too self-absorbed to concern him- 
self with his boy's future, and who, having sown 
neglect, reaped the harvest he might have ex- 

Mrs. Gaskell refers to Branwell as being at home 
in the year 1840. He was there only from June 
till October, having at his father's instance re- 
signed his appointment at Broughton only six 
months after he had received it. Meanwhile, 
as Mrs. Gaskell tells us, he was occupying himself 
in " occasional composition". By a strange and 
most fortunate chance some of these "compositions" 
have come into the possession of a critic competent 

54 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

in the highest degree to pronounce upon them. 
Mr. John Drinkwater has discovered, edited and 
privately printed* a newly found MS. of Branwell 
Bronte's, signed by him, and dated " Haworth, 
Nr. Bradford, Yorks, June 27th, 1840." This 
MS. is nothing less than a verse translation of 
" The Odes of Quintus Horatius Flaccus," all but 
the last, of which Branwell says, to quote from 
Mr. Drinkwater's volume : " This Ode I have no 
heart to attempt, after having heard Mr. H. 
Coleridge's translation, on May Day, at Ambleside." 
Mr. Drinkwater supposes that most of these 
translations were made while Branwell was at Mr. 
Postlethwaite's, and probably the remainder 
at Haworth, after he returned home, and he finds 
these verses to be Branwell's " best achievement, 
so far as we can judge, as a poet." They are, 
he says, unequal, " but they also have a great 
many passages of clear lyrical beauty, and they 

• As only fifty copies have been issued, I have not 
been able to examine Branwell's Translations, but Mr. 
Drinkwater most courteously allowed me to see a copy 
of his Introduction, from which I have made the above 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 55 

have something of the style that comes from a 
spiritual understanding, as apart from merely 
formal knowledge, of great models." After pass- 
ing in brief review the various verse translations 
of Horace from Ben Jonson to John Conington, 
whom Mr. Drinkwater regards as the " most 
consistently attractive " of them all, he adds : 
" Branwell Bronte's Translations of the First 
Book of Odes need, at their best, fear comparison 
with none." 

Of at least half the Odes, Mr. Drinkwater goes 
on to say: " They are excellent in themselves and 
as good as any English versions that I know, 
including Conington's. In a few instances, I 
should say that they are decidedly the best of 
all ... in some whole poems, as in the 
lovely rendering of xxi, there is hardly a flaw from 
beginning to end. At his best he has melody 
and phrase, and he builds his stanzas well. . . . 
The book adds appreciably to the evidence that 
Branwell Bronte was the second poet in his family 
and a very good second at that, and it leaves no 
justification for anyone to say that he ' composed 

56 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

nothing which gives him the sHghtest claim to 
the most inconsiderable niche in the temple of 
hterature.' "* 

Branwell spent the summer of 1840 in anxious 
enquiry after a new kind of occupation, and 
finally obtained a post as Clerk-in-Charge at one 
of the tiny new stations on the Leeds and Man- 
chester Railway. He commenced his duties at 
this place, Sowerby Bridge, on the first of October, 
with great zest, but perhaps without realising to 
the full how extremely unsuited he was both by 
training and temperament for the kind of re- 
sponsibility he had undertaken. He was above 
all things, anxious for some remunerative work 
by which he might be able to support himself, 
as he now did for the next two years. 

The strenuous efforts of Branwell to obtain 
employment — even employment highly distaste- 
ful to him — do him the highest credit. He did 
not lose an hour in seeking to find some outlet 
for his energy, and to earn an income which, if 

* Quoted from Mr. Clement Shorter's account of 
Branwell Bronte, in " The Brontes and their Circle," 
p. 113. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 57 

it did not enable him to save, at least kept him 
from being a burden on his father. 

But as regards the duties attached to the post, 
light as they were, they were strangely unsuitable 
and tiresome to a youth of his excitable and poetic 
temperament. His heart could not be in them 
as, in duty to his employers, it should have been. 
He was temptingly near Halifax, where his friend 
Leyland lived, and he often went over to see him, 
After a time he was moved to another charge, 
to the care of the new halting-place at Luddenden 
Foot, where he had to spend all day in a miserable 
wooden shanty, stuffy in summer, and penetrated 
by wind and rain in the spring, winter and autumn 
months, a residence extremely unfitted for a 
youth so constitutionally delicate as Branwell 
Bronte. While he was employed at Sowerby 
Bridge, Mr. Francis Leyland was taken by his 
brother, the sculptor, to see Branwell at the 
station there. He gives us his impressions of 
him as he appeared in the autumn of the year 1840. 

" The young railway clerk was of gentleman- 
like appearance, and seemed to be qualified for a 

68 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

much better position than the one he had chosen. 
In stature he was a Httle below the middle height, 
not ' almost insignificantly small ' as Mr. Grundy 
states. . . . He was slim and agile in figure yet 
of well-formed outline. His complexion was clear 
and ruddy, and the expression of his face, at the 
time, lightsome and cheerful. His voice had a 
ringing sweetness, and the utterance and use of 
his EngUsh was perfect. Branwell appeared to 
be in excellent spirits, and shewed none of those 
traces of intemperance with which some writers 
have unjustly credited him about this period of 
his life. 

My brother had often spoken to me of Branwell's 
poetical abilities, his conversational powers and 
the polish of his education ; and, on a personal 
acquaintance, I found nothing to question in this 
estimate of his mental gifts and of his literary 

Another personal impression of Branwell when 
he was at Luddenden Foot, is given by Mr. William 
Heaton, who knew him well. I quote it as it is 
given in Mr. Leyland's pages, f 

♦ " Leyland," I., 266. f lb., 268. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 59 

" He was," says Mr. Heaton, " blithe and gay, 
but at times appeared downcast and sad ; yet if 
the subject were some topic that he was acquainted 
with, or some author he loved, he would rise from 
his seat, and in beautiful language, describe the 
author's character, with a zeal and fluency I 
had never heard equalled. His talents were of 
a very exalted kind. I have heard him quote 
pieces from the bard of Avon, from Shelley, 
Wordsworth and Byron, as well as from Butler's 
' Hudibras,' in such a manner as often made me 
wish I had been a scholar as he was. ... He 
lent me books which I had never seen before, 
and was ever ready to give me information. 
His temper was always mild towards me. I shall 
never forget his love for the sublime and beauti- 
ful works of Nature, nor how he would tell of the 
lovely flowers and rare plants he had observed 
by the mountain stream and woodland rill. All 
these had excellencies for him ; and I have often 
heard him dilate on the sweet strains of the 
nightingale, and on the thoughts that bewitched 
him the first time he heard one."* 

* " Leyland," I., p. 269. 

60 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

While at Luddenden Foot Branwell made 
many local excursions up that lovely valley. 
He had friends in the neighburhood at Hebden 
Bridge, and we hear from Mr. Leyland that 
sometimes ' clerical visitors ' called at his wooden 
shanty to hear his brilliant conversation. They 
invited him to their houses also, and it was while 
here that Branwell paid a visit to Manchester 
Cathedral. But these excursions drew him away 
from his proper duties ; he did not attend as 
closely to his work as he ought to have done ; 
frequently he left it in charge of his deputy ; 
and he was undoubtedly careless in his accounts. 
The Company invited him to appear before them 
and explain these irregularities. They decided 
to terminate his engagement with them, and so, 
after two years of employment, ended Branwell's 
career as a railway clerk. 

It was an ignominious ending, and it plunged 
him in the greatest gloom. He felt keenly the 
disgrace attached to his dismissal, all the more 
because it was such a disappointment to his 
family. He had supported himself for two 

Patrick Br unwell Bronte 61 

years, however, and immediately began to look 
out for another situation. He applied to Mr. 
Grundy, but that gentleman did nothing for him, 
probably feeling convinced that business was 
the last thing for which his dreamy, volatile, 
poetical friend was fitted. But he answered in 
a friendly tone, suggesting he should try one 
of the professions. This meant the Church, and 
for the Church Branwell declared he had no 
mental qualification which might make him 
" cut a figure in its pulpits . . . save, per- 
haps, hypocrisy." But he goes on to say that 
Mr. James Montgomery and another literary 
gentleman, who had seen something of his work, 
advised him to " turn his attention to Litera- 
ture." To this career, as we know, Branwell 
was much attracted already, though he did not 
take himself with any great seriousness as yet. 
He admits to Mr. Grundy that he has " little 
conceit of himself," but a great desire for activity. 
He was in fact infected with that fever of rest- 
lessness which seems to have burned alike in 
his veins and those of his sister Charlotte. In 

62 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

the months following his return to the Parsonage, 
we find Branwell solacing his weariness and 
enforced leisure with the writing of Poetry. To 
this year, early 1842, we may assign three of 
his best Sonnets : "On Landseer's Painting — 
The Shepherd's Chief Mourner " ; "On the 
Callousness produced by Care " ; and on " Peace- 
ful Death and Painful Life." 

He was in a condition of comparative loneliness 
at this time, as all his sisters were away from 
home, Anne teaching in a family who lived about 
twelve miles from York, and Charlotte and Emily 
at Brussels, in the establishment of M. Heger. 

In September his aunt, Miss Branwell, sud- 
denly became very ill. Branwell was fortunately 
at hand to do his utmost for her. She suffered 
terribly and only lived a fortnight. Branwell 
was unremitting in his attentions to her, but 
nothing could save her. It was while sitting 
under the shadow of this impending bereavement 
that Branwell wrote to his friend Grundy : — " I 
have had a long attendance at the death-bed of 
the Rev. Mr. Weightman, one of my dearest 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 63 

friends, and now I am attending at the death- 
bed of my aunt, who has been for twenty years 
as my mother. I expect her to die in a few 
hours. As my sisters are far from home, I have 
had much on my mind, and these things must 
serve as an apology for what was never intended 
as neglect of your friendship to us. I had meant 
not only to have written to you, but to the 
Rev. James Martineau, gratefully and sincerely 
acknowledging the receipt of his most kindly 
and truthful criticism — at least in advice, though 
too generous far in praise ; but one sad ceremony 
must, I fear, be gone through first." A week 
later he writes to Mr. Grundy again : — " I am 
incoherent, I fear, but I have been waking two 
nights witnessing such agonizing suffering as I 
would not wish my worst enemy to endure : and 
I have now lost the guide and director of all the 
happy days connected with my childhood. I 
have suffered much sorrow since I last saw you at 
Miss Branwell died on the 28th of October, 
• Shorter, " The Brontes and Their Circle," p. 115. 

64 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

1842, while all her nieces were away. She was 
buried before Emily and Chariotte were able to 
return. By the terms of her will, made as early 
as 1833, when Branwell was only a boy of fifteen, 
she left her little savings to her nieces, so once 
again we notice that it was not the sisters who 
were financially sacrificed. But even this bequest 
has been made an excuse for belabouring 
Branwell, whose supposed depravity at the age of 
fifteen has been the reason assigned by Mrs. 
Gaskell and Miss Robinson for his loss of benefit. 
Mr. Leyland displays a quite laudable indigna- 
tion on the subject. " It is ", he writes, " amazing 
that so much ignorance should have been dis- 
played on a subject so easily capable of being 
correctly stated ; but it is lamentable that this 
ignorance should have led the biographers of the 
Brontes by erroneous statements, to inflict ad- 
ditional and unmerited injury on Branwell."* 

But to inflict injury on Branwell has by this 
time become, as I have already pointed out, a 
positive obsession with some of our Bronte writers, 
among whom Miss Sinclair is noticeably promi- 

t " Leyland," XXXIII., p. 31-32. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 65 

nent. All her references to Branwell are made 
in a tone of almost heartless flippancy, and with 
a careless disregard for the facts of the case that 
is surprising in a writer of her distinction. She 
rivals Miss Robinson in prejudice, though with 
less excuse, for her predecessor had not access 
to the more recent material included in Mr. 
Leyland's volumes, which Miss Sinclair apparently 
finds it convenient to ignore, as, for example, 
when she remarks of this particular event, the 
death of Miss Branwell and the sudden recall of 
Emily and Charlotte from abroad : — " Then, in 
their first year of Brussels, their old Aunt, Miss 
Branwell, died. . . . Things were going badly 
and sadly at the Parsonage. Branwell was there 
drinking."* On the contrary, we know now how 
usefully and tenderly Branwell was employed, 
and there is not the remotest shadow of evidence 
for this cruel and uncalled for assertion. " Mean- 
while ", writes Mrs. Gaskell, " they enjoyed their 
Christmas all together inexpressibly. Branwell 
was with them ; that was always a pleasure at 
this time." And so ended the year 1842. 

♦ " Three BronWs," p. 25. 




And now, we come to the last and most critical 
period of Branwell Bronte's life. In January, 
1843, immediately after the events just detailed, 
he obtained another post, as tutor in Mr. Robinson's 
family at Thorp Green, in the neighbourhood of 
Boroughbridge and York, where his sister Anne 
was already installed as governess. For the next 
two and a half years, till the end of July, 1845, 
he retained this situation, obviously giving satis- 
faction to his employer. These years we may 
certainly regard as the happiest in Branwell's 
so far not too fortunate life, inasmuch as, for the 
first time in his experience, he was in daily contact 
with a woman of the most engaging charm and 
breeding, the like of whom, we may beheve, he 
had never yet enjoyed the privilege of meeting. 
Mrs. Robinson was a woman of the world, who, 
without necessarily giving any thought to the 
matter, could hardly fail to attract the ardent 


Patrick Branwell Bronte 67 

admiration of an impressionable, inexperienced, 
poetic young man of twenty-five. She was his 
senior by about seventeen years, but judging from 
the impression she made on Branwell, we may 
conclude she was equally attractive in person and 
intellect. The comparative luxury and elegance 
of her surroundings lent her added grace and 
dignity. Probably they were thrown much to- 
gether in consultation about her son's education, 
or in drawing lessons, sketching parties, walks 
up and down the alleys of the large secluded garden 
and the like, until the radiance of her graciousness 
and charm completely dazzled the young tutor. 
At first his feelings may have been those of a 
young troubadour toward his queen of love and 
beauty, a being elevated far above his reach, to 
whom it was out of the question that he should 
even aspire. But as the months grew into years 
and their intimacy increased, his feelings for the 
lady of his reverence became inflamed, until, 
little by httle, whether encouraged by any response 
on her part or not, he fell hopelessly in love with 

68 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

Branwell Bronte is by no means the first and 
only learned young clerk or poet who has fallen 
in love with a mistress far above him in fortune and 
position. The story is as old as the world. In 
manners, at least, and rich mental gifts Branwell 
was Mrs. Robinson's equal ; knowing his own 
gifts and culture, it was not perhaps such " frantic 
folly," as Charlotte afterwards called it, to dream 
that one day he might win her for himself. Such 
apparently unequal yokings have often occurred, 
and have been justified by their success. But 
to fail in such daring aspiration — that is the danger ; 
for to be repulsed, to be repudiated, is humiliation 

Whether Mrs. Robinson had given Branwell the 
right to be her champion against her husband, 
who, he declared, did not treat her well, or whether 
the lady's affection for Branwell was a phantasy 
of his over-heated imagination, does not particu- 
larly matter to us now. What does matter is the 
deep love he bore her, a love which, whether 
returned or not, was to prove the direct and tragic 
cause of his complete undoing. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 69 

In the wholesale condemnation to which Bran- 
well Bronte's mad passion for his employer's wife 
has given rise, the human element in him has 
scarcely been allowed fair play. We ought, 
before condemning him, to know just how far he 
may have been drawn on by the fancied appeal 
of a woman who was not particularly happy 
with her husband. We ought also, before con 
demning him, to reflect that he came of a wild- 
blooded Irish stock, that he was of Celtic, not 
Saxon, origin, possessing all the impulsive, ardent, 
poetic temperament of a race which has ever 
been noted for its gallantry to the gentler sex, 
a race that has never been remarkable for the 
phlegmatic control of its emotions. Branwell 
undoubtedly also possessed the weakness of dis- 
position, combined with passionate ardour, which 
is easily allured by women, especially so cultivated, 
experienced and fascinating a creature as Mrs. 
Robinson proved herself to be. She may, perhaps 
unconsciously, have given him sufficient en- 
couragement to lead him to suppose he had a par- 
ticular place in her esteem : it is certain, at any 

70 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

rate, that the fantastically dreaming youth 
assumed that his devotion was returned. Little 
by little the passion grew in his soul till his whole 
being was devoured by the thought of her, and 
quite seriously, however foolishly, he looked 
forward to the time when she might be free, and 
he would be able to ask her hand in marriage. 
Whether the lady regarded herself as pledged to 
Branwell can never be known. Nor, in spite of 
Miss Sinclair's positive assurance on the subject,* 
has it ever been divulged how Branwell's attentions 
to his wife were made known to Mr. Robinson. 
All that we do know is that Branwell had just 
returned home for the midsummer vacation 
when he received a letter from his employer 
summarily dismissing him from his tutorship, 
and threatening him with the fullest exposure 
if he dared to hold any further communication 
with the family at Thorp Green. 

This sudden and unexpected blow was almost 
too much for Branwell's sanity. Whatever was 
true or false in his love story, the agony and 
* " The Three Brontes," p. 30. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 71 

humiliation of this abrupt dismissal was real 
enough. Such a passion as he had allowed to 
grow up in his heart and mind could not be eradi- 
cated or destroyed without tearing up the very 
roots of his being. 

To his indignant family, however, it merely 
appeared fantastic or preposterous ; Charlotte 
was shocked and angered beyond measure, the 
more so as the whole family were for a brief period 
the victims of his uncontrollable agitation, almost 
amounting to unreason. For a space of eleven 
nights, as he himself afterwards confided to a 
friend, he lay in " sleepless horror " until change of 
scene was imperative, and in the care of John Brown 
he went to Liverpool, whence he took boat for 
the Welsh coast. 

The change was immediately beneficial. The 
beauty of the scenery brought peace once more 
to his troubled spirit — witness his poem, " Pen- 
maenmawr ", written at this time. He returned 
composed and outwardly calm, determined to 
face his misery and live it down as best he might. 
Hope still animated him that possibly all was not 

72 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

lost, that some day he might marry the object 
of his devotion. Thus buoyed up, he continued 
some work which, he gives his friend Leyland 
to understand, he had begun some years pre- 
viously, but to which he had not till now turned 
his serious attention. During the comparative 
leisure he had enjoyed at Thorp Green, a situation 
in which he was, to use his own expression, " so 
much the master", Branwell had directed his 
thoughts to prose literature, and had projected 
and commenced a novel, of which he had compiled 
the first volume. Upon his return from Wales, 
he took up this task once more. 

To this subject of Branwell's novel we shall 
presently return. For the moment we are merely 
concerned with mentioning it as one of the out- 
standing facts in Branwell's life, and to shew 
that his concentration on this piece of literary 
composition goes far to prove that, at this time 
at least, he was not the confirmed drunkard Mrs. 
Gaskell and others have made him out to be. 
His mental powers were indeed now at their 
zenith : of his brilliance, both now and to the 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 73 

last days of his life, Mr. Leyland insists that there 
can be no doubt. Indeed, it was during the few 
months following his return from Thorp Green 
that he produced, both in prose and verse, the 
finest work of his life. 

Things were apparently going moderately well 
with him until the following spring, when, in 
May, 1846, he received the news of the death of 
Mr. Robinson, his late employer. This momentous 
incident raised his hopes to ecstacy, only, however, 
to dash them immediately to earth, for as he was 
about to set out at once with the expectation of 
again meeting the woman on the memory of whom 
he had been living for the past ten months, a 
messenger arrived bringing him the news that he 
could never see her again, inasmuch as the terms 
of Mr. Robinson's will absolutely precluded his 
widow's remarriage, except with loss of the estate. 

Thus, deprived of all hope, Branwell's case was 
more desperate than before. In a letter to a friend, 
he writes : " Well, my dear sir, I have got my 
finishing stroke at last, and I feel stunned into 
marble by the blow. . . . It's hard work for me, 

74 Patrick Bramsjell Bronte 

dear sir ; I would bear it, but my health is so bad 
that the body seems as if it could not bear the 
mental shock. . . . My appetite is lost, my 
nights are dreadful ; and having nothing to 
do, makes me dwell on past scenes . . . till I 
would be glad if God would take me. In the next 
world I could not be worse than I am in this."* 

If his summary dismissal from Thorp Green at 
the end of July, 1845, had sent Branwell reeling 
to the ropes, this gave him his knock-out blow. 
His health, which had been long undermined by 
frequent illnesses, now gave way, and his nervous 
system went to pieces. There seemed no hope 
for him anywhere, and no one to lend him a 
helping hand. Something could still have been 
done for him had the personality of his elder 
sister been other than it was, but her patience was 
exhausted, her pride outraged, and she made 
it clear on all sides, both in the family and out 
of it, that she took no further interest in him. 

Since the time of Branwell 's return from his 
railway appointment it seems as if his family had 
* " Leyland," II, p. 147. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 75 

gradually begun to lose faith in his capacity to 
achieve that brilliant career to which they, no 
less than he himself, were looking forward. 
Charlotte, in particular, was intolerant of failure. 
And though Branwell's apparent success at Thorp 
Green had once more stimulated her interest in 
his prospects, his sudden dismissal in the summer 
of 1845, added to his own temporary loss of self- 
control, seems to have completely alienated her 
sympathy from this formerly cherished brother. 
Nothing is more ruthless than love which has 
turned to hate, and Charlotte confesses in one of 
her letters to Ellen Nussey, that she was " a 
hearty hater."* She was moreover possessed of 
a hard vein of biting sarcasm which, combined with 
an explosive temper when crossed, must have 
made her, for the inmates of the Parsonage, 
" gey ill to live wi'." It may be said that her 
attitude towards Branwell was natural enough, 
that is, for those whose standard is measured by 
her criterion. She had hoped and planned for her 
brother all his life through ; she had been, we can 
• " Life," p. 86. 

76 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

believe, his constant spur to action ; she had seen 
his marked abiUty ; she was conscious of his gifts ; 
and now she was suffering from the exasperation, 
the mortification of seeing those gifts and abili- 
ties, as she thought, wasted, thrown away in the 
pursuit of an infatuation which she could only term 
"frantic folly". Her endurance and patience 
were at an end. She had her own work, her own 
career to attend to, and the care of her father. 
There was not room in her heart for both her own 
consuming ambition and concentration on this 
failure of a brother. Branwell must go. And 
with the final overthrow and extinction, so she 
believed, of his prospects, she swept him out of 
her path. 

Searching Charlotte's correspondence at this 
time and during the next three years of Branwell's 
life, we glean not a single word of love or pity 
for her brother : nothing but ringing contempt. 
For his intervals of self-control and temperance 
she gives him no credit, remarking sarcastically, 
that he is " forced to abstain." When her friend 
Ellen Nussey is about to visit them, Charlotte 

Patrick Br unwell Bronte 77 

assures her that she need not fear any incivility 
from Branwell, and sarcastically adds, " on the 
contrary, he will be as smooth as oil."* Yes, 
assuredly Charlotte was a good hater. 

And yet, Charlotte Bronte was what by all 
recognized standards would be described as a fine 
character ; she was brave, upright, honourable, 
and in the main, just. But she possessed the 
defects of her almost Roman temperament in a 
marked degree. The honour of the family name 
and the pursuit of her own personal ambition 
were dearer to her than the saving of her own 
brother — if indeed he could be saved. She had 
in her, too, not merely the indifference of the 
pagan to the misery of the world's weakUngs, but 
also a touch of that fanatical strain which formerly 
produced martyrs or great reformers ; of that 
ascetic severity characteristic of a Conrad or a 
Calvin. She had much righteousness of vision, 
but little tolerance for wrongdoers. The sinner 
must be shewn his sin, reasoned with certainly, 
but if he gave no visible promise of amendment, 
• Shorter, "The Bronte Circle," p. 125. 

78 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

he must be cut off both from sympathy and inter- 
course. Her disposition had in it something of 
the harsh fierceness of that bitter north-easter, 
which made the shivering traveller hug his cloak 
rather than discard it ; she had nothing of the 
sun in her nature, the all-loving, all-forgiving 
sun, shining alike on the evil and the good, 
nothing of the tender gentleness of the rain, 
falling hke the tears of God's pity alike on the 
just and unjust. There was no halting between 
two opinions with Charlotte ; everything was 
either black or white, right or wrong ; and in her 
denunciation of wrong she was pitiless. Poor 
Branwell was, as we know, wrong in many ways. 
We can believe that she may have reasoned with 
him at first, but when in spite of her remon- 
strances he went again astray, when he fell, not 
once but many times, and again and again, it 
was too much for her patience ; she was not one 
of those who could forgive her brother unto 
seventy times seven. Seven times was more 
than enough for her, and if after this he continued 
in his evil ways, then she felt justified in gathering 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 79 

up her garments and passing him by. It is 
related by Miss Robinson, I know not on what 
authority — unless that of Miss Nussey — that for 
two years Charlotte never spoke to her brother. 

One pauses to wonder at the temerity that 
dares to judge and punish the shortcomings of a 
sister or brother, whose case, but for the accident 
of birth, might have been one's own. How easy 
for those secure on land to condemn the distracted 
master of the vessel, assailed at once by the winds 
and waves of material ill-fortune, weakened by 
anxiety and fever, bound it may be by his mutinous 
crew of wild passions, when he loses his grasp 
of the rudder and his ship drifts helplessly 
upon the rocks ! I am inclined to believe that 
Charlotte's attitude was a dominating factor in 
her brother's life. Hitherto he had not wholly 
forfeited her good opinion, but now that she 
deserted him, he felt himself like a rudderless ship, 
like Cowper's hopeless " Castaway". 

To know that he had not merely lost the woman 
he loved so deeply, and lost her for ever, but that 
with her, and because of her, he had lost the 

80 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

respect of his high-minded sister, was to feel that 
he was indeed at the end of all things, and hence- 
forth he gave himself up to despair. Charlotte's 
scorn lashed him as with scorpions, her eyes 
darted lightnings of contempt that blasted his 
soul. He himself, in a conversation with a 
friend, refers to an occasion when he was terribly 
cut up by one of his sister's rebuffs : " One of the 
Sunday-school girls fell sick, and they were afraid 
she would not live. I went to see the poor little 
thing," he said, " sat with her half an hour, and 
read a psalm to her and a hymn at her request. 
I felt very like praying with her too," he added, 
his voice trembling with emotion, " but, you see, 
I was not good enough. ... I came away with 
a heavy heart, and went straight home, where 
I fell into melancholy musings. I wanted some- 
body to cheer me. . . . Charlotte observed my 
depression, and asked what ailed me. So I told 
her. She looked at me with a look I shall never 
forget — if I live to be a hundred years old. . . . 
It wounded me as if someone had struck me a blow 
in the mouth. It involved ever so many things in 

Patrick Bramvell Bronte 81 

i(. It was a dubious look. It ran over me, 
questioning and examining, as if I had been a 
wild beast. It said, ' Did my ears deceive me 
or did I hoar aright ? ' And then came the 
painful, baffled expression, which was worse than 
all. It said, ' I wonder if that's true ? ' "♦ 

Charlotte's inward knowledge of her own 
lapse, her secret passion for Monsieur Heger, for 
which she scourged herself night and day, instead 
of making her more tender to her brother's fault, 
possibly aggravated her indignation : she had 
known what it was to suffer the pangs of frustrated 
passion, but she had burnt out the plague-spot 
in her flesh. Let him do likewise. Whether this 
was her argument or not, the fact remains that 
after a time she utterly repudiated her brother, 
and made no further attempts to draw him out 
of the Slough of Despond into which he had 

Charlotte's behaviour to her brother at this 
time of his greatest need is the one fault in her 

• Quoted in an article by Mr. G. S. Phillips in 
" The Mirror," lor 1872. Printed by Leyland, II., p. 127. 


82 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

otherwise blameless life, which it is difficult to 
condone. Branwell Bronte was in some respects 
a wrong-doer, but he was really a very sick man. 
For the last two years of his life he was suffering 
from extreme bodily weakness, and great mental 
distress. He was a victim of neurasthenia, a 
disease not then understood or recognized, but 
which is carefully treated in our more enlightened 
day. With subjects in the condition of Branwell 
Bronte it is above all things vital never to let them 
lose their self-respect, never to let them see that 
you have lost faith in their powers of recovery. 
Firmness and loving-kindness will work miracles 
in apparently hopeless cases. A well-known 
medical writer. Dr. Brown, who has published a 
book on the subject, describes cases very similar to 
Branwell's sufferings.* 

After the " emotional shock " of his dismissal 
from Thorp Green and Mrs. Robinson's later 
repudiation of him, we may fairly conclude 

*" Suggestion and Mental Analysis," by William 
Brown, M.A., M.D. (Oxon), D.Sc, etc. (University of 
London Press, Ltd.) 1922. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 83 

he was much more a subject for a nursing home 
than for a penitentiary. The critical atmosphere 
of the Parsonage was hostile to him ; no nursing 
of nervous disorders there, no recognition of them 
even. In the few comments which Charlotte 
makes upon her brother, she always conveys 
the impression that she had not a grain of sym- 
pathy for him, not the faintest understanding 
of his case, nor any wish to understand it. 

The attitude of his father and the other sisters 
was, from all we can gather, more forbearing than 
that of Charlotte. Anne, who had been with him 
at Thorp Green, and who must have known a 
good deal about the relations between Branwell 
and Mrs. Robinson, refers somewhat enigmatically 
to what she had seen, and adds, very temperately, 
that her brother " has had much tribulation and 
ill-health." She also expresses the hope that 
" he will get better and do better in future." 
Emily Bronte, at the same date, July 30th, 1845, 
wTites : " We are all in decent health . , . with 
the exception of Branwell, who, I hope, will be 
better and do better hereafter." These respective 

84 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

opinions were written, it will be noticed, almost 
immediately after Branwell's first breakdown, 
and with full knowledge of all that had occurred. 
This almost tender attitude is in sharp contrast 
with Charlotte's resentful harshness, and, as 
regards Emily Bronte, is of the most momentous 
importance, as I hope presently to show. Emily 
is supposed to have been his favourite sister, 
though all his life he had been dominated by the 
strong nature of Charlotte. It was Emily who 
now took him to her heart, and who hung over him 
through the remaining three years of his broken 
life with all the tenderness of a mother. 

In August of this year, 1846, Charlotte went 
with her father to Manchester, where he was oper- 
ated on for cataract. Branwell shared his sisters' 
anxiety as to the result of the operation, as we 
know from a letter to Mr. Grundy, in which he 
says : " My father, too, is quite blind, and from 
such causes literary pursuits have become matters 
I have no heart to wield." 

Emily and Anne remained at the Parsonage 
with Branwell during the month of Charlotte's 







Patrick Branwell Bronte 85 

absence, and they apparently got on with much 
comfort together. It was probably at this time 
that Mr. Grundy paid a last visit to Haworth 
Parsonage, and met Emily. To this important 
visit I shall presently have occasion to refer. By 
the help of his old friend, Mr. Grundy, Branwell 
still hoped to receive some post in connection 
with the Leeds railway, but his application met 
with no success. Continual failure in every 
direction was very depressing to his spirits, already 
in a drooping condition. Even had he been suc- 
cessful, it is doubtful if his health, at this time 
particularly wretched, would have permitted him 
to undertake serious daily duties. But, while he 
continued to look out for employment, he occupied 
himself in writing poetry, though he confesses to 
his correspondents, Mr. Grundy and Mr. Leyland, 
that he feels too physically prostrate to attempt 
any big hterary undertaking in prose. 

We can hardly accept Charlotte's statement 
that her brother was totally unaware of his sisters' 
activities at this time, as, when, on some occasion 
of Charlotte's having written to a publisher and 

86 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

received no reply, Mrs. Gaskell mentions that 
" she consulted her brother as to what could be 
the reason for the prolonged silence. He at once 
set it down to her not having enclosed a postage 
stamp in her letter. She accordingly wrote 
again, to repair her former omission and apologize 
for it."* The discrepancy suggests that Char- 
lotte's memory was not quite trustworthy, as 
might easily be the case after the lapse of years. 

Branwell's health now rapidly declined, although 
Charlotte fiercely and persistently refused to ack- 
nowledge the truth. She sneered at his pro- 
fessions of weakness, though, from the accounts 
that have come down to us, it is obvious that he 
was unfit for any employment requiring physical 
vigour. In every reference to his illnesses she 
attributes them to nothing but his own fault. 
She could not or would not see that the man's 
spirit had sustained a mortal blow ; that he 
desperately needed cheering, that he was abandoned 
and terribly lonely, that for some reason or other 
he was physically wasting away ; that he had 
* " Life," p. 222-23. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 87 

neither the mental nor physical strength to fight 
further, and was in no condition to stand up against 
the raking fire of her illimitable scorn ; that he 
was in fact dying, dying on his feet, dying from 
consumption brought on by self-neglect, despair 
and a broken heart. 

In every biography of his sisters we hear of 
Branwell's drinking habits. It is undeniable 
that he was fond of conviviality, which at times — 
but only at times — ran to excess. Nothing is 
gained by any attempt to exonerate him from this 
deplorable and unfortunate weakness. His ances- 
try and careless upbringing were predisposing 
influences, and the habits of his contemporaries 
offered no example of restraint. In the generation 
immediately preceding his own, heavy drinking 
had been the recognized accomplishment of a 
gentleman, a wit, or a man about town. The 
Elizabethans had set the fashion ; the frequenters 
of the Coffee Houses had followed it ; even the 
reputable Addison is said to have tippled, and 
certainly Steele, Fox, Goldsmith, Sheridan, Burns 
and Byron were all notoriously hard drinkers. 

88 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

Charles Lamb was no exception, and frequently 
cursed his wretched drinking habits, which, 
on his own admission, contributed to his sister's 
mental disturbance. But Branwell Bronte was 
born in an age when the first recoil was beginning 
to be felt against these wild, carousing habits. 
To frequent an inn except as a traveller began to 
be taken as a sign of depravity, and it was the 
disgrace attached by Charlotte to her brother's 
evening visits to the " Black Bull " in the village 
that made her so bitter towards him. 

Let it then be admitted at once, freely and with- 
out argument, that Branwell Bronte often drank 
heavily, and perhaps at times took opium. What 
I am concerned to dispute is that he was never 
the wholly degraded or habitual drunkard that his 
detractors would make him out. Here we have 
the evidence of Mr. Leyland and other reputable 
people who knew him personally. He had, says 
Mr. Leyland, long periods of temperance. At 
its worst, his drinking was more the indulgence of 
a convivial habit than anything else. It was 
apparently his only vice, and, deplorable as it 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 89 

might be, it bore the character of weakness rather 
than criminal misdemeanour. 

In defence of Branwell it may be pleaded 
that all through his life he had few chances such 
as come to others. At the very first, as we have 
seen, when, buoyant with hope and inspiration, 
he set out to do great things in London, his 
prospects were immediately blighted, chiefly by 
lack of funds to pursue an art student's career. 
He had no money spent on him except during 
the few months of art tuition at Bradford. The 
only fund that might have provided him with a 
university education or other start in life was 
raided by Charlotte when she persuaded her 
aunt to finance her education and Emily's at 
the Heger's Brussels pensionnat. 

Miss Sinclair is wide of the mark when she 
talks about the sisters going out as governesses 
in order that Branwell might pursue a glorious 
career. When Charlotte went to Roe Head as 
governess Emily went with her as a pupil, and 
was presently followed by Anne, and it was in 
all probability to help to educate her sisters, not 

90 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

Branwell, that she volunteered her services to 
Miss Wooler. Nothing was spent on Branwell 
other than the week's expenses in London, and 
some painting lessons at Bradford for which his 
aunt probably paid. When Emily went for six 
months as a teacher in a school at Halifax, Bran- 
well was already getting commissions for por- 
traits at Bradford, and keeping himself. When 
after 1839 Anne and Charlotte took further short 
spells of teaching, Branwell was tutoring at Mr. 
Postlethwaite's, and immediately after that he went 
for two years as railway clerk at Sowerby Bridge 
and Luddenden Foot. This disposes of the sug- 
gestion that the sisters were out earning a hard 
living as governesses while he was doing nothing. 
The whole suggestion is not merely ridiculous, 
but malicious. " Our debts will be paid off," 
writes Emily in her secret letter to Anne, dated 
July, 1841. These debts Miss Sinclair has the 
hardihood, in face of known facts, to suggest 
were " probably Branwell's."* They had nothing 
to do with Branwell. He was at this time earning 
* " The Three Brontes," p. 23. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 91 

his own living on the railway. What Emily is 
referring to, if Miss Sinclair would take the trouble 
to read the context, are those they would have 
incurred in founding that " pleasant and flourish- 
ing seminary " of their dreams, which Emily 
has just mentioned in the preceding sentence. 
But, as Miss Sinclair accepts all her predecessors' 
attitude towards Branwell, any stick is good 
enough to aim a blow, whether merited or not, 
on the old woman's principle that " if he didn't 
deserve that particular whipping he soon would 

There was one occasion on which they had to 
pay some of their brother's debts, in the winter 
of 1846, but Branwell was no idle acceptor of 
gifts, for, in a letter to Mr. Leyland, he expresses 

the wish that Mr. would send him his bill, 

" and the moment that I receive my outlaid cash, 
or any sum that falls into my hands, I shall 
settle it." This was probably some tailor's bill 
which he had incurred while he was at the Robin- 
sons', with the full expectation of meeting it 
out of his future salary, and which, owing to his 

92 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

unexpected dismissal, he was obviously unable 
to meet. It was unfortunate, of course. The 
Sheriff's officer arrived; Charlotte bitterly re- 
sented the disgrace, and promptly wrote off and 
told her friend Ellen Nussey all about it. 

In all her letters to this friend, when Charlotte 
has nothing in particular to relate, she finds occa- 
sion to say something disagreeable about her 
brother. Do we impart the failings and weak- 
nesses of those we love even to the nearest and 
dearest of our friends ? But Charlotte went even 
farther : she told her old school-mistress, Miss 
Wooler, about her brother's failings. For this 
there can have been no necessity. Miss Wooler 
was not hkely to visit Haworth, as Ellen Nussey 
was, and the only deduction we can draw is that 
Charlotte was unable to write a letter without 
detailing to her correspondents her own sufferings 
and all she had to put up with. It was assuredly 
Charlotte who was the egoist of the family. 
Had she loved Branwell she would have suffered 
more silently for his sake, instead of blazoning 
his unhappy weakness to every intimate corres- 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 93 

pondent. Miss Nussey had known Branwell from 
a boy, and as late as the winter of 1842-3, mes- 
sages were being exchanged between them through 
the medium of Charlotte's letters. After 1845, 
however, Charlotte evidently decided that Ellen's 
interest in her brother must be checked, and, by 
her continual report of his delinquencies, she 
effectually wrecked his image in her friend's 
mind. Long before this, however, it had become 
evident, from Branwell's manner, that he had 
become completely absorbed in an entirely different 

The following letter to his friend Leyland, 
written some time about the close of the year 
1846, or, more probably, in the opening of 1847, 
gives such a vivid picture of Branwell's mental 
and physical condition that I transcribe it in 

" My DEAR Sir, 

I am going to write a scrawl, for the querulous 
egotism of which I must entreat your mercy ; 
but, when I look upon my past, pre.sent and 

94 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

future, and then into my own self, I find much, 
however unpleasant, that yearns for utterance. 

This last week an honest and kindly friend 
has warned me that concealed hopes about one 
lady should be given up, let the effort to do so 

cost what it may. He is the , and was 

commanded by , M.P. for , to 

return me, unopened, a letter which I addressed 

to and which the lady was not permitted 

to see. She, too, surrounded by powerful per- 
sons who hate me like Hell, has sunk into re- 
ligious melancholy, believes that her weight of 
sorrow is God's punishment, and hopelessly 
resigns herself to her doom. God only knows 
what it does cost and will, hereafter, cost me, 
to tear from my heart and remembrance the 
thousand recollections that rush upon me at the 
thought of four years gone by. Like ideas of 
sunlight to a man who has lost his sight, they 
must be bright phantoms not to be realized again. 
I had reason to hope that ere very long I should 
be the husband of a lady whom I loved best in 
the world, and with whom, in more than com- 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 95 

petence, I might live at leisure to try to make 
myself a name in the world of posterity, without 
being pestered by the small but countless bother- 
ments, which, like mosquitoes, sting us in the 
world of workday toil. That hope and herself 
are gone — she to wither into patiently pining 
decline, it to make room for drudgery, falling 
on one now ill-fitted to bear it. That ill-fitted- 
ness rises from causes which I find myself able 
partially to overcome, had I bodily strength ; 
but, with the want of that, and with the presence 
of daily lacerated nerves, the task is not easy. 
I have been in truth too much petted through 
life, and, in my last situation, I was so much 
master, and gave myself so much up to enjoy- 
ment, that now, when the cloud of ill-health and 
adversity has come upon me, it will be a dis- 
heartening job to work myself up again, through 
a new life's battle, from the position of five years 
ago, to that from which I have been compelled 
to retreat with heavy loss and no gain. My army 
stands now where it did theft, but mourning 
the slaughter of Youth, Health, Hope and both 
mental and physical elasticity. 

96 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

The last two losses are, indeed, important to 
one who once built his hopes of rising in the 
world on the possession of them. Noble writings, 
works of art, music or poetry, now, instead of 
rousing my imagination, cause a whirlwind of 
blighting sorrow that sweeps over my mind with 
unspeakable dreariness ; and, if I sit down and 
try to WTite, all ideas that used to come clothed 
in sunlight now press round me in funereal 
black ; for really every pleasurable excitement 
that I used to know has changed to insipidity 
or pain. 

I shall never be able to realize the too sanguine 

hopes of my friends, for at twenty-nine I am 

a thoroughly old man, mentally, and bodily, far 

more indeed than I am willing to express. God 

knows I do not scribble like a poetaster when I 

quote Byron's terribly truthful words : 

No more — no more — oh ! never more on me 
The freshness of the heart shall fall like dew, 
Which, out of all the lovely things we see, 
Extracts emotions beautiful and new ! 

I used to think that if I could have, for a week, 
the free range of the British Museum — the library 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 97 

included — I could feel as though I were placed 
for seven days in Paradise ; but now, really, 
dear sir, my eyes would rest upon the Elgin 
marbles, the Egyptian saloon, and the most 
treasured columns, like the eyes of a dead cod- 
fish. My rude, rough acquaintances here ascribe 
my unhappiness solely to causes produced by my 
sometimes irregular life, because they have known 
no other pains than those resulting from excess 
or want of ready cash. They do not know that 
I would sooner want a shirt than want a springy 
mind, and that my total want of happiness, were 
I to step into York Minster now, would be far, 
far worse than their want of a hundred pounds 
when they might happen to need it ; and that, 
if a dozen glasses or a bottle of wine drives off 
their cares, such cures only make me outwardly 
passable in company, but never drive off mine. 
I know only that it is time for me to be some- 
thing, when I am nothing, that my father cannot 
have long to hve, and that, when he dies, my 
evening, which is already twilight, will become 
night ; that I shall then have a constitution still 

98 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

so strong that it will keep me years in torture 
and despair, when I should every hour pray that 
I might die. 

I know that I am avoiding, while I write, one 

greatest cause of my utter despair ; but, by G , 

sir, it is nearly too bitter for me to allude to it. 
(Here follow a number of references to the sub- 
ject, which are omitted by Mr. Leyland.) To 
no one living have I said what I now say to you, 
and I should not bother yourself with my inco- 
herent account did I not believe that you would 
be able to understand something of what was 
meant — though not all, sir ; for he who is with- 
out hope, and knows that his clock is at twelve 
at night, cannot communicate his feehngs to one 
who finds his at twelve at noon."* 

The importance of this letter is great, because 
it is first-hand evidence, and because it shows us 
his utterly listless, hopeless and dejected con- 
dition, with no interest in any work of art or 
literature, his own or others', outside his nar- 
rowly confined horizon of vision. He was the 
♦ " Leyland," II., p. 177. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 99 

victim of one idea — his frustrated passion for 
Mrs. Robinson. It also shows, without the pos- 
sibility of doubt, the shockingly weak condition 
of health and spirits into which he had fallen. 
He was surely a subject for pity rather than for 
the scorn and derision with which his elder sister 
regarded him. 

The winter of 1846-7 was a particularly trying 
one, and both Branwell and Mr. Bronte had 
influenza and bronchial trouble. In the following 
May, Charlotte invited her friend Miss Nussey 
to visit them, a thing she would never have done 
had BranweU's conduct been all that his bio- 
graphers have tried to make out. He was 
depressed, but still trying to employ his time 
with writing, chiefly poetry, a poem " Morley 
Hall " in particular, for his friend Leyland. 
This may have been a commission, given him in 
kindness partly to distract his mind. He never 
ceased to prosecute enquiries as to " situations 
suitable to me, whereby I could have a voyage 
abroad." These, however, came to nothing, 
though a voyage south would greatly have 

100 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

benefited both mind and body. During this 
year — 1847 — which proved a terrible one for his 
faihng health, he wrote another poem, significantly 
called " The End of All." One more poem, 
however, was attempted after this, but remained 
unfinished. Its title was " Percy Hall." 

It is obvious that, to the very last, Branwell 
retained his gifts of poetic expression and a graphic 
power of personal narration which, his hearers 
relate, was nothing short of marvellous. Mr. 
Lejdand affirms that " he himself could endorse " 
all that Mr. Phillips says about Branwell's bril- 
liancy of intellect at this time. Mr. Phillips 
admits he was much altered in appearance during 
the latter part of their acquaintance, but goes 
on to say, " if he had altered in the same direction 
mentally, as his biographer says he had, then he 
must have been a man of immense and brilhant 
intellect. For, I have rarely heard more eloquent 
and thoughtful discourse, flashing so brightly 
with random jewels of wit, and made sunny and 
musical with poetry, than that which flowed 
from his lips during the evenings I passed with 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 10 1 

him at the ' Black Bull,' in the village of Haworth. 
His figure was very slight, and he had, like his 
sister Charlotte, a superb forehead. But, even 
when pretty deep in his cups, he had not the slight- 
est appearance of the sot that Mrs. Gaskell says 
he was. ' His great tawny mane,' meaning thereby 
the hair of his head, was, it is true, somewhat 
dishevelled ; but, apart from this, he gave no sign 
of intoxication. His eye was as bright and his 
features were as animated as they very well 
could be ; and, moreover, his whole manner gave 
indication of intense enjoyment." 

The spring and summer of 1848 were wild, wet 
and unfavourable to one like Branwell, suffering 
from chronic bronchitis, and " marasmus," a con- 
sumptive wasting-away, arising from hereditary 
tendency, chill, and neglect of food, as well as 
from mental agony and the effects of irregular 
life. His family do not seem to have observed 
him very closely. On the 28th of July, Charlotte 
writes : " His constitution seems much shattered. 
Papa and sometimes all of us have sad nights 
with him. He sleeps most of the day, and conse- 

102 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

quently will lie awake at night. But has not 
every house its trial ? " 

This is Charlotte's only comment on the desper- 
ate condition of her dying brother. He did not 
trouble them many weeks longer : on the morning 
of Sunday, the 24th of September, he died with 
tragic suddenness, after having been confined to 
bed only for a single day. 

Charlotte, writing to a friend on the 9th of 
October, gives a short account of his last hours, 
and goes on to say : " A deep conviction that he 
rests at last, rests well, after his brief, erring, 
suffering, feverish life, fills and quiets my mind 
now. The final separation, the spectacle of his 
pale corpse gave me more acute bitter pain than 
I could have imagined. Till the last hour comes, 
we never know how much we can forgive, pity, 
regret a near relative. All his vices were and are 
nothing now. We remember only his woes." 

How much more helpful to Branwell, could his 
sister Charlotte have pitied and forgiven him a 
httle earlier in his lifetime. It was rather late 
in the day to remember his woes when he was 


We have heard the brief chronicle of the promise 
of genius cramped by ill-health, crushed by 
misfortune, yet constantly putting forth buds 
of rare beauty and vitality. Is it possible that 
any valuable fruit was produced, unknown to 
contemporaries, overlooked or neglected by bio- 
graphers, or wrongly attributed to another as a 
miracle ? 

It is now a matter of common knowledge to 
Bronte students that Branwell did claim to have 
written a work which, though published anony- 
mously in his lifetime, only some eight month 
in fact before his untimely death, made no stir 
in the literary world either then or for many years 
after. This work was the novel, " Wuthering 
Heights," which has long been assigned to his 
sister Emily, chiefly, if not entirely, upon the 
evidence of Charlotte Bronte's " Preface and 

Biographical Memoir of her Sisters," issued with 


104 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

the edition of 1850. Charlotte made her statement, 
without doubt, in absolute good faith, completely 
beheving that what she affirmed was the truth 
of the matter. There can be no doubt of this. 
She had probably never heard a word about any 
claim entered by her brother. A claim was made 
privately in a declaration to his friend, Mr. Grundy, 
and subsequently pubhshed by that gentleman 
in a volume of personal " Recollections " issued 
in the year 1879, long after Branwell, Emily and 
Charlotte were dead, so that there was no one left 
who could either confirm or refute it. 

The matter dates from a visit of Mr. Grundy's 
to Haworth Parsonage, probably in the summer of 
1846, when Charlotte was at Manchester with her 
father, and Branwell, Emily and Anne were left 
at home together. Mr. Grundy writes as follows : 
" One very important statement which he (Bran- 
well) made to me throws some light upon a question 
which I observe has long vexed the critics, that is, 
the authorship of ' Wuthering Heights.' . . . 
It is well-nigh incredulous that a book so mar- 
vellous in its strength, and in the dissection of 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 105 

the most morbid passions of diseased minds, 
could have been written by a young girl like Emily, 
Bronte, who never saw much of the world, or knew 
much of mankind, and whose studies of life and 
character, if they are her own, must have been 
chiefly evolved from her own imagination. Patrick 
Bronte declared to me, and what his sister said 
bore out the assertion, that he wrote a great portion 
of ' Wuthering Heights ' himself. Indeed, it 
is impossible for me to read that story without 
meeting with many passages which I feel certain 
must have come from his pen. The weird fancies 
of diseased genius with which he used to entertain 
me in our long talks at Luddenden Foot re- 
appear in the pages of the novel, and I am inclined 
to believe that the very plot was his invention 
rather than his sister's."* 

Now, this claim of Branwell's, made, be it ob- 
served, when the novel was still going the round 
of the publishers, and, so far, without success, 
indeed often with nothing better than " an 

♦ Francis H. Grundy, " Pictures of the Past," 
(Griffith & Farran,) 1879, p. 80. 

106 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

ignominious and abrupt dismissal," with not a 
shadow of intimation of its future celebrity or 
of the genius that would be ascribed to its author ; 
this in no way braggart claim, has been made 
" the whole head and front of his offending." 
Had he never made it, his shade would assuredly 
have been allowed to rest in obscurity and medi- 
ocrity. Having made it, however, and the claim 
having been subsequently published by Mr. 
Grundy, it could not be overlooked by those who 
had made themselves the passionate partisans 
of Emily's authorship. The hunt was now up, 
and the pursuers were determined to be satisfied 
with nothing short of the complete extirpation 
of Branwell Bronte. His character must be stained 
with the darkest colours ; nothing bad enough 
could be invented about him ; he was to be ex- 
posed as a bragging liar, a drunkard, an opium- 
eater ; in short, a man so degraded, so lost to every 
sense of decent feeling that no reliance could be 
placed on any declaration of his, least of all upon the 
" preposterous statement," as Mr. Clement Shorter 
calls it, " that he wrote ' Wuthering Heights.' " 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 107 

Yet, if Branwell Bronte was such a wretched 
creature as the biographers make out, why trouble 
about him at all ? If his claim is actually so 
" preposterous," if his literary capacity is so 
completely negligible, why should the discussion 
of Branwell occupy so important a place in all 
the Bronte literature ? What, in short, is the 
cause of all this feverish desire to " suppress " 
him running through all the pages of Miss Mary F. 
Robinson's monograph on Emily Bronte ; through 
much of Miss May Sinclair's book on the same sub- 
ject ; and through Mr. Clement Shorter's work 
on the " Brontes and their Circle " ? Can it be 
due to an uneasy feeling in their minds that 
Branwell's declaration of authorship may not 
be easily got rid of ? Can it be the dread lest 
Emily Bronte's reputation as the author of this 
great novel is trembling in the balance ? And is 
it then in order to safeguard the interests of Emily 
that one and all they never cease, on any occasion 
open to them, to dig up and insult her brother's 
ethical and literary remains ? 

If they are so sure about Emily's reputation. 

108 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

if it is really secure and removed beyond all dispute, 
why all this vituperation of poor Branwell ? 
Why not let him rest in well-deserved obscurity, 
why not inscribe " Pobre " over his tombstone 
and let him be ? Is it that, having committed 
themselves irrevocably to the championship of 
Emily, they are ashamed to draw back ? 

Even if she did not write " Wuthering Heights," 
they have nothing to fear : she has renown enough 
without it. Let us therefore try to sift the 
evidence, openly and without prejudice, in the fair 
court of PubHc Opinion, not impatiently pre- 
judging the case and anticipating the verdict 
along with the impassioned admirers of Emily 
Bronte. Because we love Emily — and the present 
writer will yield to no one in admiration of her— 
because of that very admiration and a certain 
prepossession in her favour, we have to be the more 
careful to avoid the bias that would make our 
verdict accord with our secret wishes. 

Whether Emily Bronte wrote " Wuthering 
Heights " or not, she would still remain what 
she is, one of the most remarkable and lofty- 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 109 

minded women the world has ever known. Her 
" Poems " would still entitle her to fame, though 
perhaps not to the extended reputation she has 
received as a novelist. 

Leaving these generalities, let us marshal such 
facts as are available for the fair examination of 
the question. This examination involves four 
particular enquiries. What further evidence is 
there, apart from Mr. Grundy's statement, of 
Branwell's claim to and qualification for the 
authorship ? How did it come to pass that Char- 
lotte knew nothing about her brother's claim ? 
On what grounds did she so confidently found her 
assertion of Emily's authorship ? What were 
the evidences of Emily's authorship, and her quali- 
fications for the work ? 

It will be convenient to consider these points 
in a reverse order, first laying before the reader 
all that is certain and accepted as regards Emily's 
connection with it, including an estimate of her 
particular capacity for writing it, together with 
Charlotte's available information ; leaving the dis- 
cussion of Branwell's claim for a later page. 

110 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

All we know about Emily's presumptive author- 
ship is that when, in the winter of 1845-6, Charlotte 
was urging each of her sisters to " prepare " a 
novel for pubhcation, to be offered along with 
one she herself had written, Emily " produced " 
this book, " Wuthering Heights," to be sent to 
the pubHshers, not as the work of Emily Bronte, 
but of " Ellis Bell," the pseudonym which had 
been already assigned to her in connection with the 
publication of the joint book of Poems which 
Charlotte had already given to the Press. The 
book was presumably in her hand-writing and 
consequently passed for hers, but there is no evi- 
dence that it had been shown to her other sisters 
in instalments, or discussed between them "chap- 
ter by chapter," as some critics have averred. 
We have Charlotte's definite statement in her 
" Biographical Introduction," made with special 
reference to this work, that for some years they 
had " discontinued " their earlier habit of inter- 
communication and consultation. 

This novel, when read by Charlotte or aloud to 
her, not merely surprised, but completely astounded 

Patrick Branwell Bronte ill 

her. It fell on her ears like a clap of thunder. 
She was absolutely horrified. She admits that she 
" shuddered " as she hstened, and " the mere 
hearing of certain vivid and fearful scenes banished 
sleep by night, and disturbed mental peace by 
day."* It seemed almost inconceivable to her 
that her quiet, retiring sister could have created 
anything so apparently alien to her own disposi- 
tion, character and limited experience. The whole 
relationship between Emily and the book which 
passed ostensibly as hers was a puzzle and a prob- 
lem to Charlotte ; but, however mystified or 
curious Charlotte might be, Emily never enlight- 
ened her sister as to what had prompted her to 
such a strange work. She remained silent and 
immutable as a sphinx, or merely put Charlotte's 
complaints aside as smacking of " affectation." 
Obviously she would not discuss the work in any 
way, at least not with Charlotte. 

Upon its pubhcation eighteen months later, in 
December, 1847, we find Charlotte, in a letter 
to Mr. Williams, the reader for Messrs. Smith & 

* Preface to 1850 edition of " Wuthering Heights," 

112 Patrick Br anw ell Bronte 

Elder, half apologizing for the contrast between 
the " refined " poetry of " Elhs Bell " and the 
prose of " Wuthering Heights " — a prose which, 
she says, " breaks forth in scenes which shock 
more than they attract."* The book had a bad 
reception, and a bad press. The author was 
universally supposed to be a man, and a very coarse 
and brutal one. At length it began to be suggested 
that " it was an earher and ruder attempt by the 
same pen that produced ' Jane Eyre.' " This was 
in the summer of 1848, about two months before 
Branwell's death, when the book had been pub- 
lished only about six months. Charlotte was much 
upset, and determined to put the matter right with 
her London publishers by taking her sisters with 
her to convince Mr. Williams and Mr. Smith 
of their separate identity. Here then was an oppor- 
tunity for Emily to proclaim herself the veritable 
author of the book. But what happened ? 

She would not, and did not go. 

None the less, Mr. Clement Shorter, in his eager 

* Letter to W. S. Williams, quoted " The Brontes 
and their Circle," p. 146. 

Patrick Br anw ell Bronte 113 

anxiety to establish Emily's authorship, is deter- 
mined that she must be " got " there, and accord- 
ingly makes the astonishing blunder of putting 
Emily's name instead of Anne's in connection with 
this visit.* Miss Sinclair avoids this pitfall, but 
professes to account for Emily's refusal to prefer 
her claim in person by attributing it to her pride 
and a superb indifference. 

But Emily went even further than this. Not 
only did she refuse to make a personal claim of 
authorship, but, on Charlotte's return, she evi- 
dently took her very sharply to task for making 
unwarranted assumptions on her behalf, namely, 
for telling Messrs. Smith and Williams that there 
were " three " sisters who were authors. Mrs. 
Chadwick has drawn attention to this point. 
In reference to the authorship of " Wuthering 
Heights," she says : " It was sent out as the work 
of Ellis Bell, and only as such was she determined 
that it should be known. "f The letter Charlotte 

• " Brontes and their Circle," p. 6. A Bronte Chron- 

+ " In the Footsteps of the Brontgs," p. 325. 


114 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

was immediately pressed by Emily to write in 
correction of this error is given by Mr. Shorter, 
and I here quote the part to which Mrs. Chadwick 
refers : " Permit me to caution you not to speak 
of my sisters when you write to me. I mean, do 
not use the word in the plural. Ellis Bell will 
not endure to be alluded to under any other 
appellation than the nom-de-plume. I committed 
a grand error in betraying his identity to you and 
Mr. Smith. It was inadvertent — the words ' we 
are three sisters ' escaped me before I was aware. 
I regretted the avowal the moment I had made 
it ; I regret it bitterly now, for I find it is against 
every feeling and intention of Ellis Bell."* 

This is startling evidence indeed. What is the 
obvious deduction from this strong, almost angry 
protest, which Charlotte was constrained to make 
on behalf of Emily ? 

Might it not be that Emily, who, as Charlotte 

tells us, was incapable of " trickery ", would not 

for one moment allow it to be either presumed 

or established that she, Emily Bronte, was to be 

* " The Brontes and their Circle," p. 361. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 115 

identified with " Ellis Bell " ? And, what for 
our present purpose is even more significant, 
we find her insisting that this same " Ellis," who 
is not to be identified with herself, is not to be 
assumed to be one of the " three sisters." What 
then is the inference ? Is it not clear from these 
remarkable stipulations of Emily's, which we may 
beUeve worried Charlotte not a httle, that Emily 
was concealing another person's authorship under 
her pseudonym ? That by obliging Charlotte 
to write this letter she went as far as she possibly 
could in disclaiming the work for herself ? That, 
although she hated and was incapable of "trickery" 
in the accepted sense of that word, she was never- 
theless bound in some mysterious, secret way 
not to reveal the real authorship of the book ? 

Yet, if she was concealing someone else's 
authorship, whose could it be ? She hotly re- 
pudiates, through Charlotte, the idea that " Ellis 
Bell " is either herself or one of the Bronte 
" sisters " : who then was " Ellis Bell " ? And 
what " intention " of Emily's was violated by 
couphng this pseudonym with her own name ? 

116 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

Was " Ellis Bell " Branwell Bronte ? And was 
this " intention " of Emily's her endeavour to 
conceal his authorship of " Wuthering Heights " ? 
And why should she conceal it ? 

Before entering into the discussion of these 
exciting questions, it is first necessary to deal 
with Emily's own capacity for writing the book, 
and to enquire closely into her known literary 
activities at the very period when she produced 
" Wuthering Heights," and handed it to Charlotte 
for publication. This will take us back to the 
summer of 1845, and more particularly to the 
month of July, when Branwell had just received 
his dismissal from Thorp Green, and Charlotte 
had already begun to turn her thoughts to the 
role of author. 

Students of the Brontes will have noticed theii 
peculiar love of " secrets " ; their plays were often 
thus described. " Best plays mean secret plays," 
writes Charlotte in 1829.* They maintained 
this idea of secrecy no doubt in several writings. 

* " 

" Life," p. 55. " These are our three great plays 
that are not kept secret." 

Patrick Br unwell Bronte 117 

but we meet with it notably in another instance, 
at a much later date, when one might suppose 
they had outgrown the youthful fancies which 
had first prompted it. In this case it was two 
secret letters, one to be written from Anne to 
Emily, at the end of every four years, and one 
from Emily to Anne at the same time. Both 
letters were to be indited and locked up, and finally 
opened on Emily's birthday at the close of the 
appointed period. This little piece of intimacy 
between the sisters Anne and Emily, who were 
especially devoted to one another, does not seem 
to have been extended to Charlotte, who probably 
knew nothing about it. But Emily was full of 
fun, and enjoyed a specially private mystery 
between herself and one she tenderly loved. 
By an unprecedented piece of literary good 
fortune, Mr. Clement Shorter has chanced upon 
these brief little records for the years 1841 and 
1845. Emily's birthday being on the 30th of 
July, they are dated accordingly. 

In these letters there is a further secret, a 
private hterary partnership between Anne and 

U 8 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

Emily in the story of some imaginary people 
called by the writers, " The Gondialand." In 
1841 Emily writes to Anne : " The Gondialand 
are at present in a threatening state, but there is 
no open rupture as yet. All the princes and 
princesses of the Royalty are at the Palace of 
Instruction." In Anne's letter of the same date 
we have the following : " How will it be when we 
open this paper and the one Emily has written ? 
I wonder whether the Gondaland {sic) will still be 
flourishing, and what will be their condition ? 
I am now engaged in writing the fourth volume 
of Solala Vernon's life." Next, as Mr. Shorter 
says : " let us take up the other two little scraps 
of paper. They are dated July the 30th, 1845, 
i.e., on Emily's twenty-seventh birthday." There 
are several entries referring to family matters, 
but aU that is immediately to our purpose is as 
follows : " Anne left her situation at Thorp 
Green of her own account, June, 1845. Anne and 
I went our first long journey by ourselves together, 
leaving home on the 30th June, Monday, sleeping 
at York, returning to Keighley Tuesday evening. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 1 19 

sleeping there and walking home on Wednesday 
morning. . . . And during our excursion we were, 
Ronald Macalgin, Henry Angora, Juliet Augusteena, 
Rosabella Esmaldan, Ella and Julian Egremont, 
Catharine Navarre and Cornelia Fitzaphnold, 
escaping from the Palaces of Instruction to join 
the Royalists, who are hard driven at present 
by the victorious Republicans. The Gondals 
still flourish bright as ever. I am at present 
writing a work on the First War.* Anne has been 
writing some articles on this and a book by Henry 
Sophona. We intend sticking firm by the rascals 
as long as they delight us, which I am glad to say 
they do at present." 

So much for the letter as far as it reveals Emily's 
literary occupations at this particular time, July 
30th, 1845. But it has a further interest for us, 
so we will quote another extract : " We are all 
in decent health only that papa has a complaint 
in his eyes, and with the exception of B. (Branwell) 
who, I hope, will be better and do better here- 

•Also " The Life of the Emperor Julius," vide 
Anne's letter infra. 

120 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

after. I am quite contented for myself : not 
so idle as formerly, altogether as hearty, and 
having learnt to make he most of the present, 
and not long for the future with the fidgetiness 
that I cannot do all I wish ; seldom or ever 
troubled with nothing to do, and merely desiring 
that everybody could be as comfortable as myself, 
and as undesponding, and then we should have a 
very tolerable world of it. ... I must hurry 
off now to my turning and ironing. I have plenty 
of work on hand, and writing, and am altogether 
full of business." 

The value of these letters lies in the fact that 
they are the only pieces of self-revelation Emily 
Bronte ever vouchsafed to any member of her 
family. Closely analysed, what do they prove 
about the writer ? 

We find her possessed of a spirit of humorous 
playfulness, a great love of fun and of romantic 
as contrasted with realistic invention. She is 
absorbed in the Gondals and their fortunes, and 
is busy writing about them. We find her also 
full of a tender affection towards her younger 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 121 

sister, and towards her brother, concerning whom 
she is quite optimistic. She is, in fact, full of 
brightness and hope for everyone. We see in her 
one of the helpers of the world, a lifter of other 
people's burdens, glorying in her strength. And 
yet it is this bright and brave creature, hating 
every species of depression, who is to be credited 
with the creation of the dark, hopeless, tragic 
story unfolded in the gloomy pages of " Wuthering 

Next let us take a glance at Anne's letter of the 
same date. After referring enigmatically to her 
" escape " from Thorp Green, where, she remarks' 
" I have had some very unpleasant and undreamt- 
of experience of human nature," she refers to her 
brother who has " been a tutor there, and has had 
much tribulation and ill-health. He was," she 
goes on, " very ill on Thursday, but he went, 
with John Brown, to Liverpool, where he is now, 
I suppose ; and we hope he will be better and do 
better in future. . . . Emily is engaged in writing 
the Emperor Julius's life. She has read some of 
it, and I very much want to hear the rest. She 

122 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

is writing some poetry too. I wonder what it is 
about. I have begun the third volume of ' Passages 
in the Life of an Individual.' We have not yet 
finished our Gondal Chronicles that we began 
three and a half years ago."* 

This extract is important, as it refers to what 
Emily was doing at this time, and confirms her 
own admission that she was working at Gondal 
subjects. It will be noticed that there is very 
little reference to Charlotte throughout the letters. 
She was evidently not admitted to this confidential 
gossiping chronicle between the two younger 
sisters, and probably knew nothing of the Gondal 
literature. The whole scheme of the Gondal 
History appears as a " secret " between Anne 
and Emily, and no one else was allowed to be 
concerned in its creation. 

The " Poems " here referred to, and about 
which Anne was curious, were a very secret and 
private possession of Emily's. No one had been 
permitted to see them, and, but for an accidental 

* For these letters in full, see " Brontes and their 
Circle," p. 134-140. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 123 

discovery of them by Charlotte shortly after this 
letter was written, it is possible they would never 
have been made known in Emily's lifetime. 
We know how Charlotte finally persuaded her 
sister to allow her to publish them, and how for 
the purpose of anonymity Charlotte suggested 
they should assume the pseudonyms of the three 
" Bells." Poetry was indeed Emily's greatest 
gift. Poetic inspiration was the very breath 
of her nostrils. 

But a close examination of Emily's own work, 
both at this period, when, as we have seen, she 
was absorbed with the " Gondals," writing the 
" History of the First War " and " The Emperor 
Juhus's Life," when most of her poetry was 
written, must convince any unprejudiced critic 
that realistic fiction was not at all in her line. 
Anne and Charlotte were vivid reahsts : they used 
all the scanty material that lay to hand, their own 
schooldays, or their teaching experiences, varied 
and enriched with a vein of romance or a fiery 
eruption of passion working through the dull 
grey lava of composition. Not so Emily. Her 

124 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

mind was outside all these mundane desires and 
experiences ; it was out on the moors, or even 
above the moors, soaring up to the fantastic 
companies among whom she had dwelt so long ; 
not degraded to the drunken ravings of a Hindley 
Earnshaw, or the demoniac machinations of a 
Heathcliff, or even occupied with the placid, 
practical-minded prosings of a Mrs. Nelly Dean. 
Emily's imagination was peopled with beings of 
another world altogether. She was, like Blake, 
a visionary of the purest exaltation. Men and 
women of the usual individual types, that is, 
as men and women, did not appeal to her ; she 
avoided them on every occasion, indeed fled before 
them. Charlotte lets this slip inadvertently, in 
a letter to Mr. Williams : "I should much, very 
much, like to take that quiet view of the ' Great 
World ' you allude to. . . . Ellis, I imagine, 
would soon turn aside from the spectacle in 
disgust. I do not think he admits it as his creed 
that ' the proper study of mankind is man ' — 
at least not the artificial man of cities."* Not 
• " The Brontes and their Circle," p. 148. 

Patrick Branzoell Bronte 125 

indeed man anyAvhere ! One can as soon imagine 
John Milton writing a novel as Emily Bronte, 
One has only to read her inspired poetry to feel 
how far above earth her spirit waged its warfare : 
her love was never given to an earthly human 
lover. Her body was on earth, but her mind 
and spirit were far above, out and away beyond it. 
Like " Bonny Kilmeny " she " had been she knew 
not where," and her " eyes had seen what she 
could not declare " ; she had been, like KUmeny, 

" Where the cock never crew, 
Where the rain never fell, and the wind never blew, 
But it seemed as the harp of the sky had rung, 
And the airs of Heaven played round her tongue. 
When she spake of the lovely forms she had seen. 
And a land where sin had never been." 

She was in fact completely absorbed in her dream- 
world, the world of the Gondialand. She was not 
interested enough in them to write about any 
earthly horses or stables, either at the Heights 
or at Thrushcross Grange : riding only the winged 
steeds of her fiery imagination, " the Horse Black 
Eagle I rode at the Battle of Zamorna." Many 
of her poems are Gondal poems, though we cannot 

126 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

now trace their connection with the History of the 
Gondals, as the Chronicles have perished, probably 
destroyed by Charlotte, because appearing too 
wildly imaginary for the latter-day world in which 
she moved and had her being. She thought them 
rather childish, a little too romantic for " grown- 
ups " to be occupied with. At any rate, they 
are gone, and much of Emily has perished with 
them. So withdrawn was Emily's spirit, so 
intense her reserve, that even to her darling sister 
Anne she had not confided a line of her Poems, 
so that we can but faintly imagine her fury when 
Charlotte discovered and rifled her hidden nest. 
" It took hours," says Charlotte, " to reconcile 
her to the discovery I had made, and days to 
persuade her that such poems merited publication." 
Yet it is this Emily, hiding in a locked desk 
her secretly written verses from the eyes even of 
her favourite sister, Anne, and so hotly resenting 
Charlotte's accidental inspection of them ; it is 
this Emily, jealously guarding the Gondialand 
secret from the rest of the family ; it is this 
fiercely exclusive, passionately self-contained 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 127 

writer, with a personality shy as the most furtive 
woodland animal, fleeing from contact with its 
fellows, shunning and even dreading every kind 
of publicity — this is the Emily who, we are invited 
to beheve, offered a novel to the public gaze, and 
asked Charlotte to arrange for its publication. 
Can we really believe this ? 

It is true that her poems were finally laid before 
the public under an assumed name, but we have 
seen how, much against her will, they were torn 
from her by Charlotte. Had Charlotte not un- 
earthed them, it is quite certain Emily would never 
have disclosed their existence. It is surely obvious 
that at this date, the winter of 1845-6, any idea 
of writing for the public had never so much as 
crossed Emily Bronte's mind. She had none of 
the cravings that devoured her sister Charlotte 
to make a name in the world. Indeed, Charlotte 
admits in the " Biographical Notice of her Sisters," 
prefixed to the 1850 edition of " Wuthering 
Heights," what difficulty she had to " fan " even 
the tiny spark of latent ambition in Emily's mind, 
which makes her calm production of the novel of 

12 8 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

*' Wuthering Heights " a mysterious and inex- 
plicable thing — unless, that is, we may accept 
the hypothesis that she was acting on behalf of 
a concealed author. 

But, apart from Emily Bronte's distaste for pub- 
licity, there are other considerations and arguments 
induced by a study of her peculiar personality 
which make it difficult to imagine her as the 
author of this book. No work such as " Wuthering 
Heights " could possibly be produced without 
some raison d'etre, and where can we find any 
raison d'etre for Emily's authorship ? Men and 
women are not stirred up to write passionate 
works unless they have experienced something 
of such passions themselves, and this terrible story 
is utterly out of harmony with what we know of 
her spiritual or her visionary nature. It is 
sharply in contrast with her calm, helpful attitude 
towards others, that high, brave, contented 
outlook which made her anxious that everyone 
should be as cheerful as herself, so that there could 
be a " very tolerable world " for those around 
her. The author of " Wuthering Heights " did 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 12 9 

not find the world tolerable, or care whether it 
was so or not, or tend to make it more so by his 
writings. From the ethical point of view the 
book will not help anyone, masterpiece though 
it be. It is, on the contrary, one of the most 
depressing works ever written, and the misery of 
the chief characters in it is never relieved until the 
very end. To write such a book would never have 
suited Emily. She was not out to upset the world : 
it was hard enough to have to upset Charlotte, 
who took the hearing of it so badly. 

As for the suggestion made both by Sir Wemyss 
Reid and Miss Robinson, that Emily drew the study 
of Heathcliff from her unfortunate brother's ex- 
periences, that she was so cruelly detached from 
human sympathy as to " use " his vices for her 
own artistic ends, and so " drew its profit from 
her brother's shame," the suggestion is an outrage 
on this loving guardian of her brother. If we 
interpret that fiery nature aright, we must believe 
that Emily would rather have bitten out her tongue 
or burnt off the offending hand than have uttered 
or penned a line that should defame him. 

1 30 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

There was undoubtedly something in Emily's 
attitude about the book which puzzled Charlotte, 
though she could not precisely define it even to 
herself. She was, as we have seen, shocked beyond 
measure at its subject matter and language, 
and nearly all her references to it, both in 
her letters to Mr. Williams and in her 1850 
Preface, are more or less apologetic. Emily, 
as we have seen, would not discuss the book with 
her, or answer any questions, even had Charlotte 
dared to put them. We gather the impression 
that Charlotte was not a little frightened by her 
younger sister, of whom she significantly observes 
in her biographical introduction to the work : 
" My sister Emily was not a person of demonstra- 
tive character, nor one on the recesses of whose 
mind and feelings even those nearest and dearest 
to her could, with impunity, intrude unlicensed " ; 
and elsewhere, in a letter to Miss Nussey, we find 
her complaining that "it is useless to question 
her — you get no answers." 

Yet the fact remains that, when Charlotte 
appealed to Emily for a novel to offer for publica- 

Patrick Branivell Bronte 131 

tion, Emily produced " Wuthering Heights," 
and that, after Emily's death, Charlotte, by 
arrangement with her own publishers, wrote a 
special Preface to it, claiming the work as Emily's. 
How then can we account for Charlotte's positive 
affirmation of her sister's authorship, made in 
good faith, and duly, if tardily, accepted by the 
public ? If Emily did not write it, then how or 
why did she " produce " it ? For its appearance 
as coming from Emily Bronte is only less mar- 
vellous than Jove's reputed pr oduction of Minerva 
from his brain : on the other hand, if Branwell 
wrote it, there is no marvel. 

It is not incompatible with what we know of 
Emily Bronte's espousal of aU weak and helpless 
things and causes that she should strain every 
nerve to rouse and encourage her weak and nerve- 
wracked brother's ambitions and genius. We 
have, at any rate, good reason to believe that 
Emily and Branwell were peculiarly attached to 
each other, and that her care of him came to absorb 
a great part of her life. In this we have the support 
of Miss Mary F. Robinson's account of Emily's 

132 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

devotion, and she probably got it from Miss Nussey ; 
there is also the strong village tradition referred 
to by Mrs. Chadwick. According to Miss 
Robinson, it was Emily who waited up for him at 
night, and let him into the Parsonage long after 
the other members of the family had retired to 
bed. After his death, too, according to the old 
servants, it was Emily who mourned most for 
her brother. " She died of a broken heart for love 
of her brother," is the report of Martha Brown's 
sister.* In the close intimacy obtaining between 
them at this time, it is inconceivable that Branwell 
should not have confided to a beloved and loyal 
sister the project of a novel upon which, we shall 
show later, he was concentrating his efforts. I 
think on the evidence we are justified in sketching 
out what really happened something on these lines. 
He read it to her as he went along ; gave her the 
parts he had already completed, told her what 
plot and sequel he had planned. After the first 
burst of energy in its creation was spent, his 
volatile nature flagged in the determination to 
* Chadwick, " In the Footsteps of the Brontes," p. 361. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 133 

complete. Emily urged him to continue, and 
offered to help him with the copying or with the 
more tedious parts of composition, and finally 
pressed him to end it on that note of hopefulness 
which flashes like evening sunlight through the 
general gloom in which the story is shrouded. 

We may believe," moreover, that Emily was 
deeply impressed with the work, and pressed her 
brother to show it, or to let her show it to Charlotte, 
who was so full of literary projects for the family 
— Branwell excepted ; and we may equally believe 
that Branwell, smarting under the sting of 
Charlotte's reproaches, refused ; that keenly 
resenting Charlotte's neglect, and the fact of her 
ignoring his " Poems " when she arranged for the 
publication of her own and her sisters' efforts, 
his pride was roused ; that one of the conditions 
he made with Emily, when he showed her his work, 
was that it should be kept a secret from the rest 
of the family, especially from Charlotte. Only 
Emily should know ; he was certain he could 
trust her. Had he even wished to let Charlotte 
see his handiwork, he would never have dared 

134 Patrick Br anw ell Bronte 

to face her with the subject of that work. The 
whole terrible story of one man's infatuation for 
the wife of another, his cold-blooded schemes to 
get possession of her, his deliberate revenge upon 
the family of the man and woman who had 
wronged and thwarted him, if presented by 
a brother who had just been dismissed in disgrace 
for a similar unlawful passion, with which Charlotte 
was completely out of sympathy, would have 
made the work abhorrent to her ; she would have 
indignantly refused to have anything to do with 
it. Reading into her brother's character much 
of Heathcliff' s depravity of mind ; viewing the 
work as the outcome of his low or coarse associa- 
tions ; drawing consequently the worst possible 
conclusions as to the company he frequented ; 
arguing that from these sources alone could he 
have gleaned the dreadful details and horrible 
language found in the book : obviously a frank 
and open appeal to Charlotte was entirely out of 
the question, and Emily was probably induced 
to see this. 

Yet her great fear was that Branwell should 

I'atkick's Chaik. " 

Hrainvell's favourite seat in the parlour of the Bhick Bull Inn. 

Ha worth. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 135 

throw up the book. Emily knew it was important, 
above all things, for him to find an interest in 
life, something to take him out of himself, and to 
keep him from brooding. Her interest stimulated 
him afresh, difficult though it was to keep him up 
to it. Charlotte's suggestion in the winter of 
1845 or early 1846, that each of her sisters and she 
herself should write a novel and offer them for 
publication, gave Emily, in a flash, the lead, the 
opening she was seeking for Branwell. Why 
not urge him to finish it and leave it to her to get 
it offered for publication ? She, at all events, 
would have no hesitation in producing it under a 
pseudonym, the one which Charlotte had already 
invented for her, and Charlotte should not be 
allowed to ask any questions. She had herself 
no novel to offer, but here was this fine story of 
Branwell's. His need was great, and Emily was 
not the one to shrink from a likely attempt. She 
would shoulder the responsibility, if only he would 
finish it. 

Of course, we do not and cannot know what 
precisely happened : we can only conjecture. 

136 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

But, where so many conjectures have been already 
hazarded about the Brontes, it is not very far- 
fetched to suppose that this generous sister under- 
took to help him, both by making a fresh copy 
of what he had done, and by copying out the re- 
mainder until he had finished it : she may have 
written some connecting portions of the work. 
Having done all this and being determined that, 
evading Charlotte's boycott, the novel should have 
its chance, her only course lay in adopting the work, 
with her brother's full approbation and gratitude, 
and becoming its patron and foster-mother. At 
worst it was only a ruse to keep Bran well's author- 
ship from Charlotte, a pious fraud, completely 
justified by the very exceptional circumstances. 
There was no thought of " trickery " in the 
matter. It was a private arrangement between 
herself and the author, in fact a kind of literary 
partnership. There was no fraud in helping 
to get a brother's book published, acting entirely 
n his interest and with his consent. It was her 
secret and BranweU's just as the " Gondal " 
writings were her secret and Anne's. A mystery. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 137 

if you like, but as we have seen, all the Brontes 
were inclined to make a mystery of their 
writings, especially Emily. 

Charlotte, indeed, carried this foible farthest 
in trying to conceal her authorship of " Jane 
Eyre " from even her bosom friend, Ellen Nussey : 
" Though twenty books were ascribed to me, I 
should own none. I scout the idea utterly. 
Whoever, after I have distinctly rejected the 
charge, urges it upon me, will do an unkind and 
ill-bred thing. If, then, any B-an, or G-an, should 
presume to bore you on the subject, to ask you 
what ' novel ' Miss Bronte has been ' publishing,' 
you may just say, with that firmness of which 
you are the perfect mistress when you choose, 
that you are authorized by Miss Bronte to say 
that she repels and disowns every accusation of 
the kind."* 

This denial of publication was a much greater 
departure from the truth than what we ascribe to 
Emily ; but, in Charlotte's case, the excuse was 
furnished by Mrs. Gaskell that she had pledged 

* " Life," p. 245. 

188 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

her word to her sisters not to reveal it. Had not 
Emily a better excuse for preserving BranweU's 
secret ? 

Furthermore, we must remember that, in dealing 
with Emily Bronte, we are up against a strong 
and exceedingly peculiar personality, a personality 
so strong indeed that she deemed herself account- 
able to no one for any course or attitude she chose 
to pursue or assume. Miss Nussey has said of 
her that " she was in the strictest sense a law 
unto herself, and a heroine in keeping to her law."* 
If Emily thought it right to help Branwell in his 
urgent need of encouragement, and saw no other 
way but this, she would pursue it ; nothing 
would stop her ; for those she loved she would 
risk anything. No one dared question her, 
Charlotte least of all, and she herself volunteered 
nothing. She declined to enter into any corres- 
pondence with the publishers, but treated with 
them through Charlotte or Anne. With that 
independence of character which shrank from no 
issue, she was willing to take on her shoulders all 
* " The Brontes and their Circle." 

Patrick Br unwell Bronte 13U 

the consequences of this daring action. If the 
book failed to find a publisher, as it might well do 
from the strange and tragic character of its con- 
tents, no harm was done ; if, after pubhcation, 
it attracted no attention, or was roundly abused, or 
brought little credit to its author — no matter : 
" Ellis Bell " would bear the blame, and, as we 
know, " Ellis " did bear it. 

The book had no success in Branwell's lifetime ; 
he only lived eight months after its publication, 
and was then too far gone in consumption and 
despair to take any interest in its fate ; for by 
that time the once bright flame of his ambition had 
sunk so low that scarcely even its embers remained 
— all his desire for fame was now but as dust and 
ashes within him. Certainly after its publication 
he had few opportunities of discussing it with 
his friends, nor perhaps, till after his death, were 
they aware of its existence. It was many years 
before it obtained much, if any, circulation in the 
neighbourhood of Haworth or Halifax. And, but 
for Emily, " Wuthering Heights " would never 
have reached the press, would have been cast 

1 40 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

into the limbo of Branwell's other unfinished 

Charlotte, however, shocked and mystified by 
the work itself, had no reason to doubt Emily's 
authorship of the novel she " produced," though 
she had no direct evidence from Emily herself. 
As even her stout champion. Miss Sinclair, has 
to admit : " She left no record, not a note or a worid 
to prove her authorship." 



We must now examine the evidences of Branwell's 
actual known literary power and achievements, 
and the particular reasons for believing that 
he was the author of " Wuthering Heights." 

It will be necessary to turn back again to the 
year 1845, and to the close of the month of July, 
when Branwell, summarily dismissed from his 
tutorship, had returned home, because it was 
during the months immediately following his 
return that his literary activities, already alluded 
to, have a special significance in connection with 
our enquiry. 

During the time when so many of Branwell's 
critics suppose that he was giving his entire leisure 
to drink and dissipation, we have his own evidence, 
taken from a letter he wrote to his friend Leyland 
in September, 1845, less than two months after 
he left Thorp Green, that he had long been turning 


142 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

over a great literary project in his mind. This 
was the preparation of a novel in three volumes. 
His own words are as follows : 

" I have, since I saw you at Halifax, devoted 
my hours of time, snatched from downright 
illness, to the composition of a three-volume 
novel, one volume of which is completed, 
and, along with the two forthcoming ones, has 
been really the result of half a dozen by-past 
years of thoughts about, and experience in, this 
crooked path of life. I feel that I must rouse 
myself to attempt something, while roasting 
daily and nightly over a slow fire, to while away 
my torments ; and I know that, in the present 
state of the publishing and reading world, a 
novel is the most saleable article. . . . My 
novel is the result of years of thought ; and if 
it gives the vivid picture of human feehngs for 
good and evil, veiled by the cloak of deceit which 
must enwrap man and woman ; if it records as 
faithfully as the pages that unveil man's heart 
in ' Hamlet ' or ' Lear ' the conflicting feelings 
and clashing pursuits in our uncertain path 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 143 

through life, I shall be as much gratified (and as 
much astonished) as I should be if, in betting 
that I could jump the Mersey, I jumped over the 
Irish Sea. It would not be more pleasant to 
light on Dublin instead of Birkenhead than to 
leap from the present bathos of fictitious litera- 
ture to the firmly fixed rock honoured by the 
foot of a Smollett or a Fielding. 

" That jump I expect to take when I can 
model a rival to your noble Theseus, who haunted 
my dreams when I slept after seeing him. But 
meanwhile I can try my utmost to rouse myself 
from almost killing cares, and that alone will be 
its own reward."* 

In commenting upon this letter there are 
several points to notice. First of all, it is evident 
that for many months before he left Thorp Green, 
Branwell had been working on a novel, seeing 
that the first volume of it was completed by 
September, 1845. This would mean then that 
the idea of a novel as the most profitable and 
saleable species of literature had in all probability 
• " Leyland." II, p. 83-84. 

144 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

been suggested by him to Charlotte or Anne in 
their Christmas or other gathering at the Par- 
sonage, and Charlotte had been quick to take 
up the idea, and had commenced operations 
already, privately of course, with the " Pro- 
fessor." Anne also had started on her " Passages 
in the Life of an Individual," afterwards pro- 
duced as " Agnes Grey." 

Another point is that, as Branwell's novel 
was one inspired by " half a dozen by-past 
years of thoughts about and experience in 
this crooked path of life," it was obviously a 
recital of some of the things in his own life. 
But his story was, he tells us, " veiled by 
the cloak of deceit which must enwTap man 
and woman," which may be taken to mean 
that, though he had used his own real experiences 
and those of some other person, he had covered 
up these experiences in such a " veiled " wrapping 
that they would not be easily recognized. That 
the story was a tragic revelation of the passions 
of the human heart, morbid, unhappy, despairing 
and stormy, may be deduced from the com- 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 145 

parison with such revelations as those of " Lear " 
and " Hamlet." The presentation of the picture 
was " vivid," and it was not written in the current 
style of " fictitious " literature, but in the simple, 
realistic style of Smollett or Fielding. All these 
characteristics of Branwell's novel apply to the 
tragic story of " Wuthering Heights." It will 
further be noticed that Branwell refers to the 
remaining volumes as " forthcoming," an ex- 
pression that may be taken to imply that, though 
not, like the first volume, completed, they were 
actually in hand. Branwell then was working 
hard at this novel, in the autumn of 1845, to 
" rouse himself from killing cares " and " while 
roasting over a slow fire " of mental torment, 
in which his recent experiences at Thorp Green 
would be continually present to his mind, and 
would indubitably colour his narrative. And he 
was thus steadily and passionately employed on this 
work, in which he gave free play to his feelings, 
at the very time when he is represented by his 
detractors, encouraged by Charlotte's reports, as 
being entirely given up to the consumption of 
drink and opium. 

146 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

We get other glimpses of Branwell's novel, 
and his tragic subject, from an account given by 
a friend of his, Mr. William Dearden, who was 
induced many years later, by a query concerning 
the authorship of " Wuthering Heights," to 
communicate to the Halifax Guardian, of June, 
1867, some " facts within his personal knowledge " 
relating to the authorship of that work. Having 
entered on a friendly poetic contest with Branwell, 
they were to meet at a small hostelry on the road 
to Keighley, where, under the presidency of Mr. 
Leyland, each was in turn to read his production. 
By an annoying mischance Branwell had brought 
the wrong papers with him, and drew from his hat, 
where it was convenient to carry notes, the MSS. 
of a novel he was writing. " Chagrined at the 
disappointment he had caused," says Mr. Dear- 
den, " he was about to return the papers to his 
hat, when both friends earnestly pressed him to 
read them, as they felt a curiosity to see how he 
could wield the pen of a novelist. After some 
hesitation he complied with the request, and 
riveted our attention for about an hour. . . . 

Patrick Br unwell Bronte 147 

The story broke off abruptly in the middle of a 
sentence, and he gave us the sequel viva voce, 
together with the real names of the prototypes 
of his characters ; but, as some of these person- 
ages are still living, I refrain from pointing them 
out to the public. He said he had not yet fixed 
upon a title for his production, and was afraid 
he should never be able to meet with a publisher 
who would have the hardihood to usher it into 
the world. The scene of the fragment which 
Branwell read, and the characters introduced 
into it — so far as then developed — were the same 
as those in " Wuthering Heights," which Char- 
lotte Bronte confidently asserts was the pro- 
duction of her sister Emily."* 

Now, Branwell 's emphatic remark that he feared 
he would never meet with a publisher who would 
have the " hardihood " to print his novel indicates 
that the story was of a terrible nature, one which 
it would require some courage to publish. Further, 
from Mr. Dearden's identification of some of the 
characters, as given him by Branwell, we gather 
• " Leyland," II, p. 186-188. 

148 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

that the scene was laid somewhere in the neigh- 
bourhood of Keighley or Hahfax. Such indeed 
was the setting of " Wuthering Heights," on a 
wild moorland-side, overlooking a valley. 

But there is further evidence concerning this 
novel of Branwell's. Another friend of his, 
Mr. Edward Sloane, of Hahfax, author of some 
"Essays, Tales and Sketches " (1849), declared to 
Mr. Dearden that Branwell had read to him, portion 
by portion, the novel as it was produced at the 
time, insomuch that he no sooner began the 
perusal of " Wuthering Heights," when published, 
than he was able to anticipate the characters and 
incidents to be disclosed."* 

All this seems convincing testimony, and cannot 
by any species of critical jugglery be got out of the 
way. Even if Branwell's own statement were to 
be called in question, it would be ridiculous to 
suppose that there was a conspiracy on the part 
of several witnesses at different times and places 
to assert his authorship. These men were of known 
position and integrity, Yorkshiremen too, with the 
* Quoted " Leylaiid," II, p. 188. 












Patrick Branwell Bronte 149 

characteristic Yorkshire straightforwardness of 
character, and hatred of fabrication. It is im- 
possible they can all have been mistaken, and 
their statements, added to Mr Grundy's report of 
Branwell 's claim, which his sister verified, form 
consecutive links in a strong chain of evidence. 
In ordinary circumstances this evidence would 
have been considered sufficiently substantial to 
prove Branwell's case. How then, it may be asked, 
does it come about that his claim has lain so long 
in abeyance and not been more urgently pressed ? 

The reason is not far to seek. The first point is 
Mrs. Gaskell's impeachment of him, directed, as 
even Miss Sinclair admits, to account for what 
seemed, to the prudish mid- Victorian mind, the 
" coarseness " of " Jane Eyre." To explain 
Charlotte's apparent aberrations from the path of 
modesty, it had to be revealed that she had a 
shocking brother, no wonder her mind dwelt on 
such ideas, and so forth. Therefore, as Miss 
Sinclair admirably* points out, " Branwell must 
be made as iniquitious as it is possible for a young 

* Preface to Mrs. Gaskell's " Life of Charlotte Bronte." 

150 Patrick Br anw ell Bronte 

man to be." Consequently, when the glory of the 
book began to dawn on its more discriminating 
readers, it was felt that such a reprobate as Branwell 
should not be credited with anything so fine. It was 
out of the question that such a miserable speci- 
men of humanity as he was continually repre- 
sented to be could by any possibility have con- 
ceived and carried through so great a literary 
project. Further, Mr. Dearden's challenge in 
the above-quoted evidence was not available till 
the 'sixties and 'seventies, when Charlotte was dead ; 
and Charlotte, in her preface to the 1850 edition, 
had given the stamp of her authority to Emily 
Bronte's authorship, which was henceforth accep- 
ted, though rather grudgingly, by many of the 
critics, who still averred it could never have been 
written by a woman, and indeed only by a very 
exceptional man. To many it resembled the 
dream of an opium-eater* rather than a tale of 
human flesh and blood. 

But, with Charlotte's preface, the authorship 
seemed settled. Many who had read it in the 
* Sir Wemyss Reid, Lecture on the Brontes. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 161 

original edition did not perhaps see this ascription, 
and, with the interest attached to Emily's Poems, 
she began to be regarded as something very 
exceptional from the common rank of authors, 
capable perhaps of so daring and, on the face of it, 
so improbable a flight as this. For her " Poems " 
were beginning to bring her fame. Men Hke 
Arnold and Swinburne studied her, and recorded 
their verdict upon her greatness. The great men 
of the nineteenth century were chivalrously 
sympathetic to feminine genius. They remem- 
bered Miss Burney, Miss Austen, George Eliot and 
George Sand, and here now in their midst were 
these wonderful Brontes. When the protests of 
the Yorkshire friends of Branwell appeared, they 
probably never reached the great literary world 
of London, or, if they did, they passed unheeded, 
being regarded merely as the personal opinions of 
local provincials who did not count in the world 
of letters. In 1883, Miss Mary F. Robinson 
(Madame Duclaux), pubhshed her " Emily Bronte," 
and other writers have followed her. Sir Wemyss 
Reid lectured upon the Brontes, and especially 

152 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

upon " Wuthering Heights." With all this great 
authority behind the ascription of the novel to 
Emily's pen, how was it possible to put in a claim 
for Branwell, a man whose reputation had been 
given away by his own sister's letters, and whose 
character was regarded by the leading men of the 
day as beneath contempt. 

At length, however, a champion came forward 
for poor Branwell in the person of Mr. Francis 
A. Leyland, the brother of Branwell's friend, the 
sculptor. In his work on " The Bronte Family," 
published in 1886, he especially took up the study 
of Branwell, and on the minds of many thoughtful 
readers must have left the impression that Char- 
lotte's brother had been very unfairly dealt with. 
But his account is very diffidently given, and his 
story of Branwell is so mixed up with the history 
of the sisters that it has failed to carry due con- 
viction. Mr. Shorter, scenting danger to his 
heroine, attempted no specific answer to Mr. 
Leyland's theories and evidence, but tried to 
minimize any possible effect by the indifferent 
remark : " it is a dull book, readable only by the 

Patrick Br a nw ell Bronte 153 

Bronte enthusiast." Following his lead, Miss 
Sinclair adopted the same attitude. With such 
redoubtable adversaries in the path it is no easy 
matter to overthrow or even throw doubts upon 
the popular legend of the authorship of " Wuther- 
ing Heights." 

The first reason for identifying the book with 
that novel on which no one disputes that Branwell 
was actually engaged, is very significant, though 
indirect. Just at the time when it ought to have 
been completed, this strange, wild story, " Wuther- 
ing Heights " — a story answering so well to the 
tale Branwell was basing on the experience of 
human passions as tragic as those of " Lear " 
or " Hamlet " — suddenly appears from apparently 
nowhere, sheltered under the aegis of the literary 
pseudon}^! of " Ellis Bell." Surely this is more 
than a remarkable coincidence ? 

Of Branwell's capacity to write " Wuthering 
Heights " none of his intimate friends, those at 
least who were acquainted with his marked 
abilities, had any doubt whatever. Miss Sinclair 
dismisses his pretensions with a flippancy deplor- 

154 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

able in so accomplished a writer. Mrs. Gaskeli 
acknowledges that he " was a boy of remarkable 
promise, and, in some ways, of extraordinary pre- 
cocity of talent." Her remark has already been 
quoted : " He was very clever, no doubt ; per- 
haps, to begin with, the greatest genius in this rare 
family."* Mr. Francis A. Leyland, who had met 
him on one or two occasions, and who heard much 
of him from his brother and his friends, writes 
of Branwell's intellectual powers as something 
quite outstanding. If it be contended that he 
was so besotted by drink that his natural gifts 
were squandered, it must be answered that there 
is no shred of evidence to support this theory. 
Branwell was, we know, often intemperate, but 
never, Mr. Leyland insists, habitually so. And 
when, it may be asked, has occasional inebriety 
been an obstacle to literary creation ? It was 
assuredly not so with the great Elizabethans, who 
were notorious for their joyous drinking bouts, 
nor was it so in the still more dissipated days of 
the great Augustans, the days of poor Dick Steele, 
* " Life," p. 86. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 155 

of Sheridan and his boon companions, nor has it 
proved so in instances well known in our own day. 
But to return to Branwell : it is incontestable 
that up to the autumn of 1845, when he was busy 
with his novel, he was not habitually intemperate. 
Apart from the breakdown following the announce- 
ment of his dismissal from Thorpe Green, he was 
steadily employed in literary creation. He was, 
as he declares to Leyland, " trying his ut- 

We have, on the contrary, evidence from his 
personal friends that he was at this time at the 
meridian of his powers. But he was by nature 
diffident and modest, and probably, like more than 
one genius who has preceded or followed him, 
he had no idea how exceptional those powers were, 
both for masterly observation and the recording 
of passionate emotion. That these powers had 
a large field for expression in the novel he was 
writing is evident from the account of it we have 
read in his letter to Leyland : it was an attempt 
to express " a vivid picture of human feelings for 
good and evil," a picture that should be drawn 

156 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

realistically in the great literary school of Smollett 
or Fielding. 

Let us now turn to the internal evidence of the 
book itself, and examine how far and in what 
respects it shows signs of distinctively masculine 
authorship, and of Branwell 's authorship in 
particular. The very character of this terrible 
tale should convince any thoughtful or closelj^ 
observant reader that no woman's hand ever penned 
" Wuthering Heights." Such, indeed, was the 
universal opinion of the Press when it first ap- 
peared, and it may yet return to that opinion. 
The internal evidence is all against a woman's 
authorship, for over every page there hangs 
an unmistakable air of masculinity that cannot 
be evaded. If the story takes on a feminine 
aspect at times it is merely because the recital 
is for the time being put in the mouth of the old 
housekeeper, Mrs. Dean ; and, in respect to the 
part dealing with the upbringing of the younger 
Catharine, I willingly concede that Emily Bronte 
may have helped considerably. But the whole 
conception of the story is, from start to finish, 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 157 

a man's, particularly so whenever Mr. Lockwood 
is represented as dealing directly with the story 
and nowhere is this more evident than in the first 
two or three chapters. Before examining these 
pages I would draw the reader's attention to the 
description of Thrush Cross Grange, as given by 
young Heathcliff, who had, of course, never seen 
any place more civilized than the Heights Farm. 
" Ah ! it was beautiful," he exclaims, " a splendid 
place carpeted with crimson, and crimson-covered 
chairs and tables, and a pure white ceiling bordered 
by gold, a shower of glass drops hanging in silver 
chains from the centre and shimmering with 
little soft tapers." Now this description is so 
detailed that it must have been copied from a 
house visited by the writer. Branwell was well 
acquainted with such a drawing-room at Thorp 
Green, and it should also be noticed as a curious 
coincidence that the names of both these houses 
begin with the same two letters, so that either 

of them might be blanked as Th Gr . 

Searching closely for minuter traces of masculine 
authorship, even in the first chapter we come 

158 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

across tiny pieces of evidence pointing to the fact 
that the writer was not only a man but a scholar. 
Literally on the very threshold not merely of the 
story, but of the house itself, we meet with a 
Latin word which would scarcely be known to any- 
one not conversant with his Livy or his Virgil : I 
refer to the word " penetralium." I do not think 
Emily Bronte knew much Latin, if any. Assuredly 
she was not an advanced student in the classics, 
as we know Branwell was. Only a classical 
scholar would have used the term to signify the 
interior of the house he was about to enter. Other 
Latin or classical allusions are : the " indigenae,"* 
referring to the surly natives of the country-side, 
and Catharine Earnshaw's remark that those who 
attempted to separate her from Heathcliff would 
" meet the fate of Milo ! "f Which " Milo " is 
here referred to is not clear, but the athlete of 
Crotona was probably in the author's mind. The 
allusion would be natural to a student of Ovid or 
Cicero, and familiar enough to Branwell, though 
not, I submit, to Emily Bronte, who was not 

* " Wuthering Heights," (Cassell) Chap. IV., p. 47. 
t ib. p. 280. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 159 

" learned," so Charlotte tells us. We know from 
Mr. Grundy how fond Branwell was of introducing 
Greek, Latin or French words into his correspond- 
ence. Some other masculine expressions occur 
in the first chapters which no gentlewoman of 
the prim and prudish 'forties would have dreamt 
of using : the reference to the figures of Loves or 
Cupids over the doorway as " shameless little 
boys " ; the account of the " ruffianly bitch " 
who tore Lockwood's " heels and coat-laps " ; 
the term applied by Heathcliff to Isabella Linton — 
" pitiful, slavish, mean-minded brack " ; the 
curious exclamation of Catharine Linton, " Oh ! 
I'm tired — I'm stalled, Hareton ! "* 

The curses, the brutal language, Heathcliff's 
outbursts about " painting the house-front with 
Hindley's blood ! " ; the reference to " a beast 
of a servant," Mrs. Dean's remark, " I could not 
half tell what an infernal house we had " ; all these 
could never have been introduced into a first 
novel by a quiet, reserved young woman like 
Emily Bronte. These coarse and wild expressions 

* ib. p. 280. 

160 Patrick Br anw ell Bronte 

were written by a man who had heard many of 
them used, for they flow naturally from the mouths 
of his characters. 

There are also some touches in the meditations 
of Mr. Lockwood which particularly suggest 
Branwell's personal experiences, and which would 
never occur to a woman-writer ; the passage 
referring to Lockwood's little adventure at the 
" seaside," where he was " thrown into the 
company of a most fascinating creature," and, 
continues the description, " a real goddess in my 
eyes, as long as she took notice of me. I ' never 
told my love ' vocally ; still, if looks have language, 
the merest idiot might have guessed I was over 
head and ears, she understood me at last, and 
looked a return, the sweetest of all imaginable 
looks. And what did I do ? I confess it with 
shame — shrunk icily into myself like a snail ; 
at every glance retired colder and farther, till 
finally the poor innocent was led to doubt her own 
senses, and, overwhelmed with confusion at her 
supposed mistake, persuaded her mamma to 
decamp. By this curious turn of disposition I 

Patrick Branivell Bronte 161 

have gained the reputation of dehberate heartless- 
ness ; how undeserved, I alone can appreciate."* 
Now, could this have been written by a woman : 
more than this, can anyone imagine it to have 
been written by Emily Bronte ? Other passages 
pointedly suggest Branwell's authorship ; the 
description of the class of yeoman farmer, with 
many of whom he was undoubtedly acquainted, 
" with a stubborn countenance, and stalwart 
limbs set out to advantage in knee-breeches and 
gaiters. Such an individual seated in his arm-chair, 
his mug of ale frothing on the round table before 
him, is to be seen in any circuit of five or six miles 
among these hills, if you go at the right time after 

Branwell knew the kind of men well, and had often 
visited them at the congenial hour, when he was 
strolling across the moors around Haworth. One 
feels this touch is direct from his hand. And 
what more likely than that, on some such visit, he 
had been overtaken by one of the pitiless snow- 
storms he here so graphically describes, and had 

* " Wuthering Heights," p. 24. t '^•. P- 23. 


162 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

to wade home, like Mr. Lockwood, " sinking up 
to the neck in snow, a predicament which only 
those who have experienced it can appreciate."* 
Who but one famihar with the appliances of a 
farm would have referred to Hindley Earnshaw, 
threatening Heathcliff with " an iron weight 
used for weighing potatoes and hay " ? 

It is noticeable how the writer dallies — as it 
were — ^with the subject of consumption, just as 
Branwell does in his " Poems to Caroline." This 
dwelling on the marks of death and decay was a 
very marked characteristic of Branwell's work, 
but we can hardly imagine Emily lingering over 
the description of disease, she who scorned its 
very existence, and utterly refused to acknow- 
ledge herself ill when to the eyes of others she was 
visibly dying. 

One very marked feature of the book is its 
almost vicious attack upon the canting hypocrisy 
of the extreme Methodists. The scathing satire 
on the interminable discourses of these Ranters, 
and their endless personal exhortations, from 
* "Wuthering Heights," p. 46. 

Patrick Br anwell Bronte 163 

which Branwcll may often have been the 
victim, occupies a couple of pages in the third 
chapter. The subject is raised in Mr. Lockwood's 
dream, induced by the perusal of Catharine 
Earnshaw's books, one of which is entitled " A 
Pious Discourse delivered by the Reverend Jabez 
Branderham, in the Chapel of Gimmerden Sough." 
" In my dream, Jabes had a full and attentive 
congregation ; and he preached — good God ! 
what a sermon : divided into four hundred and 
ninety parts, each fully equal to an ordinary 
address from the pulpit, and each discussing a 
separate sin. Where he searched for them I 
cannot tell. He had his private manner of inter- 
preting the phrase, and it seemed necessary the 
brother should sin different sins on every occasion. 
Oh, how weary I grew. How I writhed and yawned, 
and nodded and revived ! How I pinched and 
pricked myself, and rubbed my eyes, and stood up, 
and sat down again, and nudged Joseph to inform 
me if he would ever have done."* But I need 
not quote further, the readers will be familiar 
* " Wuthering Heights," p. 39. 

164 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

with the most vivid parody of a Ranter's sermon 
to be found in our language. 

Yet another feature of the work is the grim 
humour inspiring the writer's satirical sketch of 
Joseph. An illustration of this occurs almost in 
the first page, in the comment made by Lockwood 
upon Joseph's ejaculation, " The Lord help us ! " 
while " looking meantime in my face so sourly 
that I charitably conjectured he must have need 
of Divine aid to digest his dinner." Again, 
another touch is given us in the description of the 
" immense consolation " Joseph derived from the 
thought that, although Hareton's soul was destined 
to perdition, " Heathcliff must answer for it," 
whereby the ultimate avenging would be at 
Heathcliff's expense : this saturnine humour is 
not a woman's, least of all Emily's. 

The whole delineation of Joseph is indeed so 
obviously studied from the life, built up from a 
model with which the writer was intimately 
acquainted, created almost with real joy as if to 
work off some personal grudge against a person 
of the ranting, Methodist type, from whose pious 

Patrick Bramvell Bronte 165 

adjurations the writer had perhaps suffered, 
that it may be taken as a notable instance of 
Branwell Bronte's known power of caricature. 
How well he was able to hit off, in a few lines, 
certain rough types of character is illustrated 
for us quite remarkably in a letter he wrote in the 
beginning of 1840 and to which I have already 
referred. This letter has been quoted, especially 
by Miss Robinson, as a sign of Branwell's early 
depravity, but I propose to quote it here for a 
quite different purpose. Written by a boy of 
twenty-one in a roystering vein of merriment, 
never intended to be seen by any other than 
his old friend, John Brown, the sexton, to whom 
it was addressed, it runs as follows : 

March 13/A, 1840. 
Old Knave of Trumps, 

Don't think I have forgotten you, though I 
have delayed so long in writing to you. It was 
my purpose to send you a yarn as soon as I could 
find materials to spin one with, and it is only 

166 Patrick Br anw ell Bronte 

just now that I have had time to turn myself 
round and know where I am. If you saw me 
now, you would not know me, and you would 
laugh to hear the character the people give me. 
Oh, the falsehood and hypocrisy of this world ! 
I am fixed in a little retired town by the sea- 
shore, among wild woody hills that rise round 
me — huge, rocky, and capped with clouds. My 
employer is a retired county magistrate, a large 
landowner, and of a right hearty and generous 
disposition. His wife is a quiet, silent, and 
amiable woman, and his two sons are fine, spirited 
lads. My landlord is a respectable surgeon, and 
six days out of seven is as drunk as a lord ! His 
wife is a bustling, chattering, kind-hearted soul ; 
and his daughter ! — oh ! death and damnation ! 
Well, what am I ? That is, what do they think 
I am ? A most calm, sedate, sober, abstemious, 
patient, mild-hearted, virtuous, gentlemanly philos- 
opher, — the picture of good works, and the 
treasure-house of religious thought. Cards are 
shuffled under the table-cloth, glasses are thrust 
into the cupboard, if I enter the room. I take 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 167 

neither spirits, wine or malt liquors. I dress in 
black, and smile like a saint or martyr. Every- 
body says, ' What a good young gentleman is 
Mr. Postlethwaite's tutor ! ' This is a fact, as I 
am a living soul, and right comfortably do I laugh 
at them. I mean to continue in their good 
opinion. I took a half-year's farewell of old 
friend whiskey at Kendal on the night after I 
left. There was a party of gentlemen at the 
Royal Hotel, and I joined them. We ordered 
in supper and whiskey-toddy as ' hot as hell ' ! 
They thought I was a physician, and put me in 
the chair. I gave sundry toasts, that were washed 
down at the same time, till the room spun round, 
and the candles danced in our eyes. One of the 
guests was a respectable old gentleman with 
powdered hair, rosy cheeks, fat paunch and 
ringed fingers. He gave ' The Ladies ' , . . 
after which he brayed off with a speech ; and in 
two minutes, in the middle of a sentence, he 
stopped, wiped his head, looked wildly round, 
stammered, coughed, stopped again, and called 
for his slippers. The waiter helped him to bed. 

168 Patrick Br anw ell Bronte 

Next a tall Irish squire and a native of the land 
of Israel began to quarrel about their countries ; 
and, in the warmth of argument, discharged their 
glasses each at his neighbour's throat instead of 
his own. I recommended bleeding, purging and 
blistering ; but they administered each other a 
real ' Jem Warder,' so I flung m}- tumbler on the 
floor too, and swore I'd join ' Old Ireland ! ' A 
regular rumpus ensued, but we were tamed at 
last. I found myself in bed next morning, with 
a bottle of porter, a glass and a corkscrew beside 
me. Since then I have not tasted anything 
stronger than milk-and-water, nor, I hope, shall, 
till I return at midsummer ; when we will see 
about it. I am getting as fat as Prince WiUiam 
at Springhead, and as godly as his friend. Parson 
Winterbotham. My hand shakes no longer, I 
ride to the banker's at Ulverston with Mr. Postle- 
thwaite, and sit drinking tea, and talking scandal 
with old ladies. As to the young ones ! I have 
one sitting by me just now — fair-faced, blue-eyed, 
dark-haired, sweet eighteen — she httle thinks 
the devil is so near her ! 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 169 

I was delighted to see thy note, old squire, 
but I do not understand one sentence — you will 
perhaps know what I mean. . . . How are 
all about you ? I long to see and hear them again. 
How is ' The Devil's Thumb,' whom men call 

, and the ' Devil in Mourning,' whom they 

call . How are , and , and 

the Doctor ; and him who will be used as the 
tongs of hell — he whose eyes Satan looks out of, 

as from windows — I mean , esquire ? How 

are little , — ' Longshanks,' , and 

the rest of them ? Are they married, buried, 
devilled, and damned ? \Vlien I come I'll give 
them a good squeeze of the hand ; till then, I am 
too godly for them to think of. That bow- 
legged devil used to ask me impertinent questions 
which I answered him in kind. Beelzebub will 
make of him a walking-stick ! Keep to thy 
teetotahsm, old squire, till I return ; it will mend 
thy body. , , . Does ' Little Nosey ' think I 
have forgotten him ? No, by Jupiter ! nor his 
clock either. I'll send him a remembrancer some 
of these days ! But I must talk to someone 

170 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

prettier than thee ; so goodnight, old boy, 


Beheve me thine. 

The Philosopher. 

Write directly. Of course you won't show this 
letter ; and, for Heaven's sake, blot out all the 
lines scored with red ink."* 

This letter, written in the vein of Prince Hal to 
his jolly old boon-companion Falstaff, is merely 
a natural outburst of youth and exceeding high 
spirits, compelled for the sake of earning a stipend 
to don the decorous garb of the staid young 
tutor. Branwell, as he says more than once, 
hated hypocrisy : he disliked having to be other 
than he naturally was, just as his sisters suffered 
from having to adopt the irksome work of gover- 
nessing. He was very young, and felt he must 
let himself " go " to somebody, hence this letter, 
as good as anything in Smollett, Dickens or 
Fielding, an example of wild, rollicking, natural 
human spirits trying to escape from the toils of 
propriety and unnatural decorum. 

♦ " Leyland," I., p. 255-9. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 1 7 1 

It is amazing that readers of this racy and 
forcible epistle have failed to discover in it a strong 
vein of that rich but sardonic humour, that head- 
long torrent of denunciation which pervades the 
pages of " Wuthering Heights." In his con- 
tempt for hypocrisy and irritation at the med- 
dlesome impertinence of some " bow-legged devil " 
(possibly some local ranting Dissenter, whose 
sermonizing was particularly distasteful) lies the 
germ of the subsequent delineation of Joseph, in 
whose character the author revels with a kind of 
triumphant maliciousness for which no woman 
could have had even a faint incentive. 

Of the remaining references in the letter we can 
identify none, but there is one of which we must 
take special notice, inasmuch as it furnishes 
decided evidence for Branwell's authorship. The 
reference I mean is to him " who will be used as 
the tongs of hell — he whose eyes Satan looks out 
of, as from windows, I mean esquire ? 

It is obvious that even at this date — 1840 — 
Branwell Bronte's imagination was playing round 
some fierce, lowering, gloomy personality with 

172 Patrick Branivell Bronte 

whom he was well acquainted and who was in 
this letter the object of this damning allusion. 
Now if we recall his letter to Leyland. already 
quoted, we remember that the project of this 
novel was the outcome of observations and re- 
flections made during the previous half-dozen 
years, which would bring us back to the years 
1839-40, when this letter to John Brown was 
written. The project was but dimly outhned in 
his mind as yet, but with the passing years the 
conception began to take shape, until, during 
his two years' residence at Thorp Green, the hot 
flame of his passion for another man's wife vita- 
lized and brought it forth in the half-human, 
half-demon shape we know as Heathchff, con- 
cerning whose eyes the very same simile is used : 
" that couple of black fiends, so deeply buried 
who never open their windows boldly, but lurk 
glinting under them like devil's spies," or else- 
where, where Isabella says : " The clouded windows 
of hell flashed a moment towards me : the fiend 
which usually looked out, however, was so dimmed 
and drowned that I did not fear to hazard another 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 173 

sound of derision." Viewed from this stand- 
point, the importance of this letter can scarcely 
be overrated, for it displays not merely the 
torrential force of Branwell's opinions upon 
certain hostile personalities, but it reveals the 
original moulds already prepared in his mind, 
whence some of the rough casts for the characters 
in his projected novel were taken. 

This view is supported by the opinion of Mr. 
Leyland, a dispassionate and fair-minded man, 
writing from a close personal acquaintance with 
the friends of Branwell Bronte. " Those who have 
heard fall from the lips of Branwell Bronte — and 
they are few now — all those weird stories, strange 
imaginings, and vivid and brilliant disquisitions 
on the life of the people of the West Riding, will 
recognize that there was at least no opposition 
between the tendency of his thoughts and those 
of the author of ' Wuthering Heights.' As to 
special points in the story, it may be said that 
Branwell Bronte had tasted most of the passions, 
weaknesses and emotions there depicted ; had 
loved in frenzied delusion as Heathcliff loved ; 

174 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

as with Hindley Earnshaw, too, in the pain of 
loss when his ship struck ; the captain abandoned 
his post ; and the crew, instead of trying to save 
her, rushed into riot and confusion, leaving no 
hope for their luckless vessel. He had too, indeed, 
manifested much of the doating folly of the un- 
happy master of the ' Heights ' ; and finally, 
there is no doubt that he possessed, nevertheless, 
almost as much force of character, determination, 
and energy as Heathcliff himself."* 

Sir Wemyss Reid — quite unwittingly, because 
he was counsel engaged on the side of Emily — 
gives evidence which confirms Mr. Leyland's 
view and my own. The lecturer's contention is 
that Branwell provided the study for his sister's 
work, a suggestion which has been shown, I hope, 
to be an outrage on all we know of Emily Bronte. 
But his contention that the delineation of Heath- 
cliff's passion for another man's wife found its 
counterpart in Branwell's experiences is valuable 
evidence for his authorship of the work, " Whole 
pages of the story," he says, " are filled with the 
* " Leyland, II, p. 192-193. 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 175 

ravings and ragings of the villain against the man 
whose life stands between him and the woman he 
loves. Similar ravings are to be found in all the 
letters of BranweU Bronte written at this period 
of his career ; and w^e may be sure that similar 
ravings were always on his lips, as moody and 
more than haJf mad, he wandered about the 
rooms of the parsonage at Haworth."* This 
last assertion, totally unsupported by evidence, 
may be left out of account. It is just the kind of 
gratuitious suggestion, with no foundation in fact, 
that is so scandalously and seditiously suppUed 
by the detractors of Branwell Bronte, and which, 
alas ! has obtained credence simply through its 

But, to continue our quotation : " Nay," he 
goes on to say, " I have found striking verbal 
coincidences between Branwell's own language 
and passages in ' Wuthering Heights.' In one 
of his own letters there are these words in reference 
to the object of his passion : ' My own life without 
her will be hell. What can the so-cadled love of 

* Quoted " Leyland," II, p. 193-4. 

176 Patrick Br anivell Bronte 

her wretched, sickly husband be to her compared 
with mine ? ' Now," continues Sir Wemyss, 
" turn to ' Wuthering Heights,' and you will read 
these words : ' Two words would comprehend my 
future — death and hell : existence after losing 
her would be hell. Yet I was a fool to fancy for 
a moment that she valued Edgar Linton's attach- 
ment more than mine. If he loved with all the 
powers of his puny being, he couldn't love as much 
in eighty years as I could in a day.' " Sir Wemyss 
Reid has reaUy proved too much, and his damag- 
ing admissions not only give his case away, but 
greatly strengthen the case for Branwell's author- 
ship from the resemblance between Heathcliff's 
expression of his passion and Branwell's own 

Mr. Clement Shorter has apologized for taking 
any notice of Branwell at all, adducing the reason 
that he was obliged to do so in the face of his 
" preposterous statement that he wrote ' Wuther- 
ing Heights.' " But with all the evidence we have 
of Branwell's own completion of the first volume 
of a novel which it would require hardihood to 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 177 

publish ; of the fact that he was engaged on it 
just at the time of his great mental struggle with 
the passion that devastated him ; that his suffer- 
ings are, even by a hostile critic, admitted to be 
just such as are depicted in the soul of Heath- 
cliff ; that his powers of caricature and delineation 
of character were great ; that he was, at the time 
when he began his novel, full of literary ambition 
and at the zenith of his powers which, by all 
contemporary accounts, were very uncommon : 
what, it may be asked, was there " preposterous " 
in such a statement ? 

Anyone possessed of unprejudiced judgment 
must see that the book is the work of one who 
has actually gone through the " hell " which was 
slowly consuming Heathcliff ; of one who, as 
Branwell Bronte wrote to Leyland, was writing 
the book to while away his torments. To have 
produced the work under such conditions would 
be far from " preposterous " ; would, on the 
contrary, be extremely natural. The truly " pre- 
posterous " theory is that Emily Bronte wrote it. 

There still remains the problem as to why 


178 Patrick Br unwell Bronte 

Branwell did not come boldly forward as the 
author of " Wuthering Heights " in his own 
remaining lifetime. To this it may be answered 
that, as the evidence already quoted proves, he 
did so come forward among his most intimate 
friends, who probably regarded " Ellis Bell " as 
his nom de plume, and never associated it with 
Emily Bronte. Also we have seen that in the 
presence of Mr. Grundy, and before his sister 
Emily, he did claim the greater portion of the 
novel as his own work. I have already tried to 
show that his pecuhar position with regard to 
Charlotte was a sufficient barrier to any open 
declaration of authorship among his own family ; 
and also we have to remember that, since it was 
written just at the time of Branwell's love story, 
he would naturally shrink from any open acknow- 
ledgment of having portrayed his unhappy 
infatuation for a woman well known in the county, 
whose family would have been greatly incensed 
at any possible identification that might ensue. 

Of these obstacles to open acknowledgment 
the chief was Charlotte's complete estrangement 

Patrick Branwell Bro7ite 179 

from her brother. Her entire ignorance of any 
collaboration between BranweU and Emily led her 
to assert in later years that her brother knew 
nothing of his sisters' work. 

There is a further point in connection with 
Branwell's concealment of his authorship from 
the family. We have to remember that for a 
year and a half, according to Charlotte, the MS. 
of " Wuthering Heights " went the round of the 
publishing houses, only to meet with abrupt and 
ignominious dismissal, and when at last in Septem- 
ber, 1847, it was finally accepted by Mr. Newby, 
another four months elapsed before he issued it. 
By this time Branwell had lost all interest in the 
work. His own health was terribly shattered, 
he was fast sinking into hopeless physical decline ; 
we know from the letter he wrote to Leyland 
at the close of 1847, or the opening of 1848, that 
he was at the end of everything, and had long 
since resigned any literary or other ambition. 
After the novel was pubhshed, it met with little 
but contumely from the press, and the notices 
were for the most part so damaging to the author, 

1 80 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

who was taken to be a rough and brutal man, 
that there was less temptation than ever for the 
author to claim his offspring. Indeed, had Emily 
revealed the truth, she would have set the seal 
on Charlotte's condemnation of their brother, 
and perhaps have called public attention to his 
unhappy faihngs. So Emily held her peace, 
as she was so well capable of doing. 

This, then, is the conclusion of the whole matter. 
We are impressed by the brave, hopeful tone of 
Emily's letters to Anne, by her obvious desire to 
help everyone, including Branwell, and I submit 
with much earnestness that this was not the woman 
who could concoct in secret and launch into the 
world a novel portraying the absolutely diabolical 
scheme of vengeance developed by the author of 
" Wuthering Heights," a novel not merely tinged 
but saturated with the hopelessness of misery, 
ruin and despair. All Emily's efforts were to 
leave the world better than she found it, but 
Branwell's case and character was totally different. 
He had lived with forlorn hopes amid the rough 
and tumble of the world immediately around him, 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 181 

in the village, in and out of the farmsteads, on the 
railway, at Bradford, Halifax, and all about this 
moorland neighbourhood, ever since he came to 
manhood ; and, as he tells Leyland, he had for 
half a dozen years back been pondering on all 
these experiences until he had decided to embody 
them in a novel. He had his vindictive feelings, 
his scores to pay off upon some old tormenting 
hypocrite, no doubt, and he gave us Joseph ; 
he had his hate of Mr. Robinson and his passionate 
love for his wife and, " veiled " by different 
characters too far removed from reality to be 
recognizable, he gave his sufferings to the world 
under the guise of fiction. Having known the dark 
passions of defeated love, he gave us Heathcliff ; 
having seen men the victims of temptation, 
despair and drink, he gave us Hindley Earnshaw, 
I have tried to show how completely masculine is 
the tone, nay, the very atmosphere, of " Wuthering 
Heights," how obviously it is written by one who 
has seen at close quarters events similar to those of 
which he writes, by one who knew the old farm 
manor-house he describes so accurately in Thrush- 

182 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

cross Grange, who had at some time or other visited 
their inmates, and knew every corner of both. 
I have tried to show that the book was written by 
one closely acquainted with the classics, which 
Emily Bronte was not, by one also who possessed 
the fine, clear-cut style of which we have proof 
that Branwell was capable. I have pointed out 
that the date of the composition of the book 
coincides with the date of Branwell's novel, that 
its character coincides with the general outhne 
given to Leyland of what he was attempting. 
I have shown that it was written at the very time 
when, like the hero, Heathcliff, he was going 
through the torments of hell, burnt up by an 
insensate passion for another man's wife ; and I 
have quoted the evidence of his friends, all men of 
repute, who aver that the story Branwell read to 
them agreed in every particular, as far as they 
heard it, with the tale afterwards published as 
" Wuthering Heights." Last of all, there is the 
direct evidence of Mr. Grundy. With all these 
points in his favour, and nothing except Charlotte's 
word in favour of Emily, it is surely difficult not 

Patrick Branwell Bronte 183 

to claim, as I most emphatically do, the authorship 
for Patrick Branwell Bronte. 

If Charlotte's affirmation is still a stumbling- 
block to some, I would venture to point out that 
none of the evidence I have tried to bring together 
was available to Charlotte, who, with her limited 
knowledge, had no alternative but to attribute 
it to Emily, and did so in good faith. But, with 
our fuller information, a reconsideration of the 
authorship is imperative, nor is there anything 
outrageous in claiming it for Branwell : on the 
contrary, it is the simplest common sense. On 
the other hand, it would require the greatest 
stretch of probability to ascribe it to anyone who 
had not closely experienced the anguish it de- 
scribes : it is written as if in blood. 

And, if Emily Bronte did not write " Wuthering 
Heights," in helping her brother to finish and 
publish it she did a far greater thing, and in so 
doing surely she has won, beneath the eyes of the 
Eternal Witness of whom Milton writes, a fame 
more imperishable than any of those earthly 
plaudits which she so despised. 

184 Patrick Branwell Bronte 

In ascribing " Wuthering Heights " to its true 
author, it may be asked, who would have rejoiced 
more than this devoted sister that her secret 
toil and long burden of anxiety was not undertaken 
in vain ? Who would have been more over- 
joyed than Emily Bronte that this much loved 
and deeply lamented brother should, even at long 
last, have come into the fame which is his own ? 




Far off, and half revealed, 'mid shade and light, 

Black Comb half smiles, half frowns ; his mighty form 

Scarce bending into peace, more formed to fight 

A thousand years of struggles with a storm 

Than bask one hour subdued by sunshine warm 

To bright and breezeless rest ; yet even his height 

Towers not o'er this world's sympathies ; he smiles — 

While many a human heart to pleasure's wiles 

Can bear to bend, and still forget to rise — 

As though he, huge and heath-clad on our sight. 

Again rejoices in his stormy skies. 

Man loses vigour in unstable joys. 

Thus tempests find Black Comb invincible. 

While we are lost, who should know life so well ! 

— {circa 1840). 


186 Appendix 



The Shepherd's Chief Mourner." — A dog keeping 
watch at twihght over its master's grave. 

The beams of Fame dry up afifection's tears ; 

And those who rise forget from whom they spring ; 

Wealth's golden glories — pleasure's glittering wing — 

All that we follow through our chase of years — 

All that our hope seeks — all our caution fears. 

Dim or destroy those holy thoughts which chng 

Round where the forms we loved lie slumbering ; 

But, not with thee — our slave — whose joys or cares 

We deem so grovelling — power nor pride are thine. 

Nor our pursuits, nor ties ; yet, o'er this grave. 

Where lately crowds the form of mourning gave, 

I only hear thy low heart-broken whine — 

I only see thee left long hours to pine 

For him whom thou — if love had power — would'st save 



Why hold young eyes the fullest fount of tears ? 

And why do youthful hearts the oftenest sigh. 

When fancied friends forsake, or lovers fly. 

Or fancied woes and dangers wake their fears ? 

Ah ! he who asks has known but springtide years, 

Or Time's rough voice and long since told him why I 

Increase of days increases misery ; 

And misery brings selfishness, which sears 

The heart's first feelings : 'mid the battle's roar. 

In Death's dread grasp, the soldier's eyes are blind 

To comrades dying, and he whose hopes are o'er 

Turns coldest from the sufferings of mankind ; 

A bleeding spirit oft delights in gore : 

A tortured heart oft makes a tyrant mind. 

Appendix 187 



Why dost thou sorrow for the happy dead ? 
For, if their Ufe be lost, their toils are o'er. 
And woe and want can trouble them no more ; 
Nor ever slept they in an earthly bed 
So sound as now they sleep, while dreamless laid 
In the dark chambers of the unknown shore. 
Where Night and Silence guard each sealed door. 
So, turn from such as these thy drooping head. 
And mourn the dead alive, whose spirit flies, 
WTiose life departs, before his death has come ; 
Who knows no heaven beneath Life's gloomy skies. 
Who sees no Hope to brighten up that gloom — 
'Tis He who feels the worm that never dies — 
The real death and darkness of the tomb. 

Note. — These three Sonnets were, according to Mr. 
Leyland, written in the year 1842. It will be remembered 
that in the autumn of this year Branwell attended the 
deathbed not only of his aunt. Miss Branwell, but of 
his friend, the Rev. W. Weightman. 

188 Appendix 



The visits of Sorrow 

Say, why should we mourn ? 

Since the sun of to-morrow 

May shine on its urn ; 

And all that we think such pain 

Will have departed — then 

Bear for a moment what cannot return. 

For past time has taken 

Each hour that it gave, 

And they never awaken 

From yesterday's grave ; 

So surely we may defy 

Shadows, like memory, 

Feeble and fleeting as midsummer wave. 

From the depths where they're falling 

Nor pleasure, nor pain, 

Despite our recalling, 

Can reach us again ; 

Though we brood over them. 

Naught can recover them. 

Where they are laid they must ever remain. 

Appendix 189 

So seize we the present, 

And gather its flowers, 

For — mournful or pleasant — 

'Tis all that is ours ; 

WTiile daylight we're wzisting. 

The evening is hasting, 

And night follows fast on vanishing hours. 

Yes — and we, when night comes. 

Whatever betide. 

Must die as our fate dooms, 

And sleep by their side ; 

For change is the only thing 

Always continuing ; 

And it sweeps creation away with its tide. 

190 Appendix 



I SEE a corpse upon the waters lie, 

With eyes turned, swelled and sightless, to the sky. 

And arms outstretched to move, as wave on wave 

Upbears it in its boundless billowy grave. 

Not time, but ocean, thins its flowing hair ; 

Decay, not sorrow, lays its forehead bare ; 

Its members move, but not in thankless toil. 

For seas are milder than this world's turmoil ; 

Corruption robs its lips and cheeks of red, 

But wounded vanity grieves not the dead ; 

And, though these members hasten to decay. 

No pang of suffering takes their strength away. 

With untormented eye, and heart and brain, 

Through calm and storm it floats across the main ; 

Though love and joy have perished long ago, 

Its bosom suffers not one pang of woe ; 

Though weeds and worms its cherished beauty hide. 

It feels not wounded vanity nor pride ; 

Though journeying towards some far-off shore. 

It needs no care nor gold to float it o'er ; 

Though launched in voyage for eternity, 

It need not think upon what is to be ; 

Though naked, helpless, and companionless 

It feels not poverty, nor knows distress. 

Appendix 191 

Ah, corpse ! if thou could'st tell my aching mind 

What scenes of sorrow thou hast left behind, 

How sad the life which, breathing, thou hast led, 

How free from strife thy sojourn with the dead ; 

I would assume thy place — would long to be 

A world-wide wanderer o'er the waves with thee ! 

I have a misery, where thou hast none ; 

My heart beats, bursting, whilst thine lies Uke stone ; 

My veins throb wild, whilst thine are dead and dry ; 

And woes, not waters, dim my restless eye ; 

Thou longest not with one well loved to be, 

And absence does not break a chain with thee ; 

No sudden agonies dart through thy breast ; 

Thou hast what all men covet — real rest. 

I have an outward frame, unlike to thine. 

Warm with young hfe — not cold in death's decline 

An eye that sees the sunny light of Heaven — 

A heart by pleasure thrilled, by anguish riven — 

But, in exchange for thy untroubled calm. 

Thy gift of cold oblivion's healing balm, 

I'd give my youth, my health, my life to come. 

And share thy slumbers in thy ocean tomb. 

192 Appendix 

SONNET (April, 1S46). 

When all our cheerful hours seem gone for ever, 

All lost that caused the body or the mind 

To nourish love or friendship for our kind. 

And Charon's boat, prepared, o'er Lethe's river 

Our souls to waft, and all our thoughts to sever 

From what was once life's Light ; still there may be 

Some well-loved bosom to whose pillow we 

Could heartily our utter self deliver ; 

And if, toward her grave — Death's dreary road — 

Our Darling's feet should tread, each step by her 

Would draw our own steps to the same abode, 

And make a festival of sepulture ; 

For what gave joy, and joy to us had owed, 

Should Death affright us from, when he would her restore ? 

Note. — ^The sentiment expressed in the last four lines 
of this poem are markedly and strangely suggestive of 
the feelings of Heathcliff in connection with the entomb- 
ment of Catherine Linton. 



Law, Alice 


Patrick Branwell 



A. M. Philpot